The backyard battleground of Syria is at a critical juncture after Syrian rebels, backed by Turkish surface to air missiles, downed Russian aircraft supporting the Syrian government during Assad’s offensive to capture the Idlib province, held by Turkish observers and rebel forces.
The Idlib province has seen both the Turkish backed rebel and Russian backed Syrian forces locked in a bitter campaign in the last few weeks, as both sides seem to be escalating in a way that may lead the backyard war into an open conflict between Russia and Turkey. Russia retaliated directly against Turkish forces stationed there killing up to 50 and wounding 20.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called an emergency session, and all the signs are pointing to an imminent decision with Turkey possibly having to declare war against the Syrian Government which potentially could bring Russia into the conflict. Erdogan may have painted himself into a corner with this misstep.
In addition, in a move designed to pull NATO into the conflict, Turkey, began ordering hundreds of refugee ships to move towards Greece. The destabilized situation has been exacerbated by the sudden outbreak of Covid 19 in nearby Italy and Iran, with fears that a general outbreak in the region is not too far away. Add to this mix the NATO criticism that Turkey should have known better than receiving S400 missiles from Russia, and EU’s reluctance to support Turkey’s efforts to declare a no-fly zone to protect its troops. It is very likely that in the next few hours the region will see many changes taking place.
The United States must quickly re-assess the situation and adjust its policy accordingly.