The Syrian military is now denying that the Syrian air force carried out the air strike on the Turkish troops north of Al-Bab which the Turks say killed several of their soldiers.
If the Syrians are telling the truth then that makes the Turkish reports of the air strike more worrying not less because the reports would in that case have to be a deliberate provocation concocted by the Turks either in order to explain away the casualties the Turkish military is suffering at the hands of the Kurdish militia the YPG near Al-Bab, or in order to prepare Turkish public opinion for action against the Syrian military near Aleppo.
The Syrians themselves are saying as much. The Al-Masdar news agency, which is aligned to the Syrian government, reports a Syrian military official saying the following:
“No Syrian or Russian aircraft bombed the Turkish Army near Al-Bab on November 23rd – all reports claiming otherwise are lies. Turkey is planning something in east Aleppo and using this alleged attack as a ploy to escalate the situation.”
(bold italics added)
This comes directly after Syrian reports – discussed earlier – of Turkish artillery shelling the Syrian military as it carried out an offensive against the Jihadis in Lattakia province.
These reported clashes between the Syrian and Turkish militaries, even or rather especially if some of them are being concocted by the Turks, finally and conclusively prove that that there is no cooperation or coordination between the Syrian and Turkish militaries in Syria.
Our contributor Eva Bartlett – who has recently journeyed in Syria – has just sent us information about a press conference held a few days ago by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem in which he said as much.
During the press conference Muallem was specifically asked whether there are any contacts between the Syrian and Turkish militaries to prevent accidental clashes between the two. He not only denied categorically that there are any such contacts, but he harshly criticised Turkey for committing aggression against Syria and for supporting terrorists in Syria.
In contrast to the complete absence of contacts between the Syrian and Turkish militaries, contacts between the Russian and Turkish militaries do exist. The Chiefs of Staff of the Russian and Turkish militaries have met twice since September, once in Ankara and once in Moscow. However it is clear that even these discussions have only gone so far, and besides it seems that in the aftermath of July’s failed coup attempt what is left of Turkey’s military leadership has lost whatever capacity it once had to act as a brake on Turkish President Erdogan’s regional ambitions.
It is in fact clear that it is Erdogan who is now making all the important decisions in Ankara, and as the megalomaniac quality of his recent speech in Busra shows, since the coup attempt he seems to have cast off all restraints and appears to be increasingly inclined to risk confrontation in Syria and Iraq in order to realise his geopolitical ambitions. This explains why the situation has now become so dangerous.