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Border Clashes Confront Turkey With 'Afghanistan of the Levant'

Clashes adjacent to Turkey's border with Syria have the potential of causing a lot of headache for Turkey, not only for their security implications but also for the international image of Turkey and the country's relations with allies, primarily the United States.
A Kurdish fighter from the Popular Protection Units (YPG) holds his weapon as he takes position atop a building with a YPG flag in Aleppo's Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhood, June 7, 2013. Kurdish fighters from the YPG joined the Free Syrian Army to fight against forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Picture taken June 7, 2013. REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman  (SYRIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS CONFLICT) - RTX10USX

Turkey’s longest border is its 911-kilometer [566 miles] one with Syria. A major segment of this border line is simply a railroad track on flat land. The flat terrain on the Syrian side that extends to Al Jazeera region abutting Iraqi Kurdistan and oil fields in Hassakeh province for the past two weeks has been the new battlefield pitting Kurds against al-Qaeda-derivative armed groups.

While Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is on the verge of securing Damascus and, even more important, is about to take back the country’s third-largest city, Homs — which controls a strategic junction — he isn’t moving a finger as far as the developments on the Turkish border in Syria’s northeast are concerned. Most likely he doesn’t want to spread his forces over a wide area far from the center. For him, the priority is to keep control of the coastal region with Latakia at its center and where his sectarian constituency dominates. This turns Syria’s north and northeast adjacent to Turkey into a battlefield between the Kurds, who are seeking a news status for themselves, and the Sunni groups either affiliated with al-Qaeda —  which aspires to set up a state that will also incorporate Iraq’s Sunni regions — or which are in a ideological-political relationship with al-Qaeda.

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