Agreement in Jarablus: buffer zone for Turkey, canton for Kurds

Jarablus operation, which was launched against ISIS but also targeted Kurdish military forces, continues. However, some sources claim that the US, Iran and Russia came to an agreement in Jarablus, or northern Syria, and Turkey and PYD accepted the conditions of this agreement. According to this alleged agreement, Turkey will stay in Jarablus and Kurds will be able to connect Kobani and Afrin cantons through Al-Bab.

After Turkish Military forces had entered ISIS-held Jarablus in northern Syria, the major matter of debate became the clashes with YPG. Even sweeping of ISIS from Jarablus have been barely discussed and there wasn't any ISIS fighter to be fought in Jarablus anyway. Even though the main target was ISIS, Turkish government made statements urging YPG to “mind their steps” and not to proceed to the west of Euphrates. The US, Iran and Russia made different statements. While so-called “Euphrates Shield” operation had been planned against ISIS, Kurdish YPG forces have been targeted as well. It is announced that 25 YPG fighters have been killed. Last weekend, YPG struck a tank of Turkish military and killed 1 soldier. President Erdoğan stated that they will do whatever they can for supporting the operations for sweeping ISIS from Syria and Iraq and they will do the same for wiping PYD off, which he calls “a terrorist organization”. On the other hand, the US urged YPG to stay on the east of the Euphrates and told Turkey that it is unacceptable to start clashes in the regions where there are no ISIS fighters. 

The parties agreed in Syria

However, the sources that are familiar with Syria speak differently. An anonymous Middle East expert claims that the parties (meaning the US, Russia, Iran, Turkey and PYD) came to an agreement concerning Kurdish region in Syria. This expert states that authorities from the US, Russia and PYD have confirmed this information.

Here is the agreement in question: The groups that are close to Turkey, like FSA or Turkey-backed other groups, will stay in Jarablus, which will function as something like a buffer zone. Cantons, or a Kurdish corridor, can be formed in northern Syria, but there can be Turkish forces in a certain region, since Turkey considers such a corridor as a threat.

There will be both Turkish forces and Kurdish cantons

The same expert describes the planned situation as the following: “Currently, there is virtually a Kurdish line in northern Syria, from Qamışlo to Kobani. Kurds will attain their goal of connecting Kobani and Afrin cantons through Al-Bab. Turkish forces will be positioned only in Jarablus. In this way, Turkey won't be offended and PYD will get what it wants.” This means that while Turkey will stay in Jarablus, PYD will move from Manbij to Afrin in order to connect Afrin and Kobani cantons through Al-Bab.

What Turkey accepts

The expert assesses the development as the following: “In this way, there will be a semi-federal system for Kurds. In order to prevent any threat to Turkey, Turkish soldiers will be in Jarablus, but allow PYD and YPG to reach Afrin through Al-Bab. The representatives of the parties, especially the ones from YPG, claim that the US also accepted this. The interesting thing is that Turkey is fine with this plan. All parties agreed on this.”

Under the guise of FSA

On the other hand, the expert talks about why there wasn't any clash with ISIS fighters in Jarablus: “It wasn't FSA, but Al-Nusra Front which entered Jarablus; FSA was just a guise. ISIS handed over the region, because it was Al-Nusra.”


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Nazan Özcan