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What is Turkey up to in northern Syria?

As Turkey advances in northern Syria as part of its Euphrates Shield offensive, taking control of al-Bab and Manbij would give Ankara access to the Aleppo front.
A rebel fighter stands near a Turkish tank as it fires towards Guzhe village, northern Aleppo countryside, Syria October 17, 2016. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi       TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2P879

The Oct. 25 bombing by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is leading Operation Euphrates Shield, is symptomatic of the struggle currently taking place in northern Syria on the al-Bab/Manbij axis. It also underlines the geopolitical conflict pitting regional powers in Syria as well as Iraq.

Launched Aug. 24, the Euphrates Shield offensive gives Turkey direct control on the course of events in northern Syria. “The Euphrates Shield consists of a coalition of Arab rebels that conquered Jarablus and other border areas with help of the Turkish army, progressing south,” according to an Oct. 5 piece by Syria expert Fabrice Balanche for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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