Pressing the US to abandon its support for the Kurdish YPG, the Turkish government has thrown considerable effort behind a group of rebel factions in the northern Aleppo Province to launch an offensive against ISIS, seeing that as a way to convince the US that non-Kurdish rebels can be successful too.
It didn’t take long for it to become a disaster. The rebels captured the town of al-Rai, and saw it as a major gain. Four days later, they lost the town back outright, and the ISIS counteroffensive pushed back even further, hitting the territory of the Turkmen-dominated rebels.
Not only did they not keep al-Rai, but the fighting has displaced some 30,000 civilians, who are all flocking to the Turkish border, and are by and large being prevented from crossing by Turkish forces, who don’t want any more refugees.
The initial hope was that al-Rai would get overwhelmed by the rebels, and they’d push on all the way to Jarabulus, ousting ISIS from the Aleppo border region. The city of Jarabulus, along the Euphrates, has also been targeted by the Kurds, and Turkey has threatened war if the Kurds capture it. If the rebels had taken it from ISIS it’d solve that problem, but instead the offensive seems to have just added to the refugee problem, and once again underscored how little a lot of the Western-backed rebels can accomplish.