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Turkey Disarms Former Ally in Northern Syria

MENAroundupMENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Mid
July 5 · Issue #45 · View online

MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq.

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Turkey 'disbands rebel battalion' as alliances collapse
Key developments
  • A new round of talks has started in Astana. As usual, the outcome is uncertain and anything but promising. Rebel factions like the Southern Front or Jaysh al-Islam boycott the event arguing that the de-escalation zones that were implemented as a result of the last Astana talks only paved the way for regime offensives on Daraa and around Damascus. 
  • However, the meeting could shed light on the rumors regarding the deployment of Russian and/or Turkish troops to Idlib. According to reports (see above and below), Turkey might attack Afrin in Syria’s northwest. For it to happen, Turkey needs the Kremlin’s blessing and if it is true that Russia has already withdrawn its troops from the Kurdish enclave, a deal seems likely.
  • In its final report, the OPCW has confirmed that the nerve agent sarin was used in the attacks on the town of Khan Sheikhoun back in April. The Assad regime said the report had no credibility and could not be accepted.
  • The SDF, led by the YPG, have entered Raqqa’s old city. To support the offensive, the U.S. has sent more military vehicles and arms. However, the real challenge lies ahead. Many YPG fighters sacrifice their lives right now. Thus, the YPG will claim a leading role in Raqqa after the Islamic State has been defeated - a conflict can be expected.
  • The U.S. is reportedly going to establish a new military base in northeastern Syria for an allied FSA group. Washington apparently seeks to strengthen its position in the scramble for eastern Syria.
Articles worth reading
Threat of war hangs over Kurdish independence vote
Turkish military build-up at border ready to target YPG-held Afrin
The Post-Caliphate Gauntlet in Eastern Syria
Al-Qaeda Affiliate and Ahrar al-Sham Compete for Control in Idlib
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