By 30 December, Turkey has de facto stopped trying to immediately break the second line of defense of the Caliphate on the Western outskirts of al-Bab. After the suffered losses and setbacks in the battle for the hospital al-Bab, the Turks were forced to withdraw and take up positions on the hills West of the city. Now there is an active accumulation of infantry and vehicles in the occupied positions from the side of Azaz constantly tightened fresh forces from the part of the 2nd and 7th Turkish armies. Also is the transfer of fighters from Idlib the FSA to make up for losses among controlled by the militants.The Caliphate similarly throws reinforcements to al-Bab.
In General, we can say that the Caliphate in November-December spent in al-Bab, a successful defensive operation. The command of “black” in operation “Euphrates shield” successfully solved a series of tasks has kept troops in Northern Syria, not allowing them to surround the area Debica and preparing conditions for long-term defense of al-Bab. During the battle for the city, “black” kept the defense after the direct impact of the FSA units and the Turkish army, and during counter-attacks inflicted substantial losses opponents. The Caliphate has traditionally demonstrated good training its infantry and high efficiency car bombs, and competent performance on the tactical level. As the Turks failed to surround al-Bab, although its strategic position continues to be very heavy. The city is half-encircled, from the South, there remains the possibility of impact of the SAA due to the forces freed up after the capture of Aleppo. It is noted that to the air strikes in al-Bab was able to connect videoconferencing.In fact, if SAA will cut the road to the South and South-East of Tarifa, the whole group of the Caliphate in al-Bab will be operational in the bag and be lost to the Caliphate. But this is still a medium-term threat, the immediate threat of loss al-Bab, the command of the Caliphate in Northern Syria were able to temporarily stop.
The Turks, having achieved operational success on the Azaz-Dzharablus, as well as during the battle for Dubinsky ledge, in recent weeks received a painful flick on the nose that has irritated Erdogan, who directly began to accuse the U.S. of using the ISIS and to demand that the American-led coalition, the storming of al-Bab. The propaganda impact of “black” with the burning alive of the Turkish soldiers reached the goal, and caused great indignation in Turkish society that led to the emergence of questions about how and whether operation in Northern Syria.Apparently, Erdogan was convinced that the Turkish army will be able to resolve the issue of al-Bab by supporting the FSA militants. When this plan failed, the Turks moved on to more direct action and began to accumulate under the al-Bab own infantry and vehicles. Want something done right, do it yourself. Apparently in January and February we will see how the Turkish army will try to break through the defense of the Caliphate from the West, and will attempt to develop encircling movement to Talifu. Erdogan will be crucial to achieve victory, because at stake is not only his personal prestige and military reputation of Turkey.
According to the Turks, during the storming of al-Bab Caliphate lost 391 people were killed. According Caliphate, the Turks and the insurgents of the SSA during the same period, lost about 520-550 people killed. Significant losses suffered by the Turks and in armored vehicles lost in the storm of about 25-30 units of tanks (including 14 damaged and destroyed tanks, “Leopard 2”) and BMP. The Caliphate lost 6 tanks (5 T-55 and 1 T-62) and BMP 4. In the city during the bombing and shelling, about 200-250 civilians. Several dozen were executed in the purges of the Caliphate.
An important role in assessing the prospects of the Turks at al-Bab will play the relationship of Turkey and the Kurds. If the intensity of conflict will increase, the Turks can more actively get involved in the collision Pro-Turkish fighters with the Kurds Afrin and Rojava that may hinder operations against the Caliphate. It is also possible harsh reaction of Turkey to the success of the Kurds at Raqqa, or any attempt by the Kurds to declare independence.
Turkey in the course of the operation “shield of the Euphrates” decided 2 important tasks:
1. Turkey is back in the hands of the Syrian war as a serious player, where she practically threw Russia (through its operations in Syria) and the Caliphate (through successful offensive operations in the first half of 2016). Erdogan has reshaped its foreign policy, where you have humbled the pride and concessions, but now he again plays a major role in Syrian Affairs.
2. Turkey was able (with the permission of Russia and Iran) to prevent the joining of the Kurds in Afrin and Rozhava that could set the stage for the proclamation of the border with Turkey, a Kurdish state in the entire length of the Syrian-Turkish border. Coming to al-Babu line Dzharablus-al-Rai-a’zaz, Erdogan has driven a wedge between the Kurdish areas and were able to more actively influence American plans associated with the Kurds. In this he found full understanding in Moscow and Tehran.Apparently, the Americans provoked the attack of Kurds on the Syrian garrison in Hasaka, prematurely gave up his real intention for the separation of Kurdistan from Syria and this was followed by a reaction, where the interests of Turkey, Russia, Iran and Syria coincided.
From minor problems Turkey has achieved the following:
1. Group “moderate” militants in Northern Syria was firmly subordinated to the Turkish army and intelligence, because the development of events during the battle of 2016 showed that without Turkish help, the FSA and the Syrian war uncompetitive. The ceasefire agreement, where Turkey, not the United States acted as the guarantor on behalf of numerous groups of militants, reflected the strengthening of Turkish influence in this matter.
2. Thanks to active actions against the Caliphate during the autumn-winter campaign of 2016 years, Turkey has been able to distance themselves from the Caliphate and accusations of collaboration with him. Now the Caliphate of Turkey-one enemy and the war against him is seriously as in the North of Syria, where the Turkish army suffers serious losses in the war, and in Turkey, where the “black” lead a terrorist war.
3. The intensification of the war in Northern Syria allowed Erdogan to strengthen his support in the army and to divert the attention of the Turkish society from the consequences of a failed coup. A small victorious war of course failed, but despite the setbacks, the overall strategic position of Turkey has improved. Not the last role was played by the normalization of relations with Russia and Iran.
Below, photos from both sides. The end of December 2016.
the Turkish army and affiliated militants on the outskirts of al-Bab.
Militants from Central Asia fighting on the side of the Caliphate under al-Bab.
the Audience in the mosque of al-Baba look like burn 2 Turkish soldiers.
Turkish “Cobra” captured by the Caliphate.
The consequences of the explosion in Azaz. Killed 12 the FSA militants and civilians, injured dozens.