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Turkey signals new rules of engagement to Syrian Kurds, Damascus

Turkish strikes on Syrian government troops and overt Kurdish attacks on targets inside Turkey signal that both sides are changing the rules of the game as Ankara eyes normalization with Damascus.
BAKR ALKASEM/AFP via Getty Images
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Ankara’s reconciliation overtures to Damascus have been accompanied by growing Turkish attacks on Syrian Kurdish and government forces along the border — a sign of new engagement rules in a border strip extending 32 kilometers (20 miles) into northern Syria that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to see as a “safe zone.”

The attacks resonate as a message that Ankara will not tolerate Syrian army positions that amount to indirect cover or support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its main component, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey insists should be removed from the border strip. The SDF and YPG appear to have changed the rules of the game as well, mounting overt attacks on Turkish border posts and patrols, something they have hitherto avoided.

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