The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) stands face-to-face with the Turkish Armed Forces along a frontline area of some 15 kilometers after Islamic State forces carried out a large-scale tactical withdrawal from the Al-Bab front on Thursday.
Although being firmly opposed to one another since the Syrian rebellion began in 2011, these two national armies have for the most part shied away from direct military confrontation.
Next up, the Turkish Army and Syrian rebel forces aligned with Ankara must decide whether to initiate potentially costly clashes with the SAA, retake areas lost to Kurdish forces or possibly dash towards Raqqa, an ISIS-held city over 160 kilometers away.
In the past, the SAA and Turkish Army have exchanged artillery fire in Latakia province and clashed sporadically in northeastern Aleppo. Nevertheless, Turkey continues to supply Syrian Islamist rebels generously with armaments and military equipment.
Due to ISIS’ retreat earlier in the day, the Turkish Army, Ahrar al-Sham, Faylaq al-Sham and Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions composed primarily of Turkmen fighters managed to take control of Al-Bab, Bza’ah, Qabasin and Tall Batnan all in the matter of a few hours.