Throughout the Syrian Civil War, an ever-growing number of disparate factions fighting one another over territorial claims have often seen their fortunes wildly shift when other, seemingly unrelated fighting brings new potential rivals into direct contact with them.
This may be happening now in the Aleppo Province, where Turkey’s invasion has secured much northern territory, while the Syrian military’s successful recapture of the city of Aleppo continues with the surrounding area. Both find themselves in increasingly close quarters near al-Bab.
Al-Bab is ISIS’ last significant city in Aleppo Province, and Turkey has been taking it for over a month, with backing from the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Reuters claimed a “non-Syrian” source as saying Syrian forces were deliberately getting close to al-Bab to challenge them, and were willing to fight the FSA over the territory.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s own troops have shifted to the southwestern side of al-Bab for their siege, which seems designed to cut off any potential Syrian military advance toward the city. The two sides haven’t clashed directly since the Turkish invasion, and both are in a state of ceasefire at present.
It’s unlikely that either side would actually attack the other, given both the ceasefire and that each has plenty of other targets, but are likely to keep a significant number of troops along their frontier as a hedge against a surprise attack from the other.