According to the Russian Defense Ministry, their flights in northern Syria, aimed at targeting both ISIS and the al-Qaeda-dominated forces in Idlib are also spotting a growing amount of Turkish troops and military equipment massed on the board in those areas, warning it appears to be “intensive preparations for an armed invasion” of Syria.
Turkey insists Russia is making the whole thing up, but also insists they have “the right” to put as many troops as they want on the border. The US State Department refused comment, saying they aren’t going to get into “what the Turks are doing on that border on any given day.”
Such an invasion wouldn’t be a shock, however, as Turkey has repeatedly threatened to intervene to stop Kurdish military gains in northern Syria, and those areas of build-up, particularly along the ISIS-held border west of the Euphrates, is the focus of a planned Kurdish offensive.
A ground invasion of Syria would put Turkey even more at odds with Russia, and would also be a PR nightmare for the US-led coalition, as Turkey would be coming to the aid of ISIS and al-Qaeda in a much more dramatic way than they previously have.
Turkey routinely move troops around at the border, however, usually accompanying threats to the Syrian Kurds, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is anything more than another round of posturing. Still, it’s clear Russia sees something different about this buildup.