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4 factors affecting Turkey's new operation in Syria

As Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria nears the end of its first week, circumstances affecting the scope, progress and duration of the operation are complicated and full of risks.
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Turkey's latest incursion into Syria has just begun, but the significance of when it will end deserves attention now. By the end of the fifth day (Jan. 24) of Ankara's operation targeting Kurdish control of Afrin, the Turkish army and its allied local forces, along with the close air support of Turkish warplanes, had reached about 7½ kilometers (4½ miles) into Syria from six beachheads and captured at least 11 villages. Now there is a new front at Mount Barsaya north of Azaz, where heavy clashes continue.

Contrary to general expectations, the operation was not launched from the relatively flat terrain of the Azaz/Tell Rifaat/Afrin line, but from the opposite direction, crossing hilly terrain in the north and northwest. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) first want to seize the dominating hill features and then lay a long-duration siege on the city, which has a population of 200,000. The TSK’s strategy seems to be to open multiple front lines in different areas to disperse the 8,000 to 10,000 troops of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and weaken their defense lines.

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