In Kobane and the north-east of Syria, the unknowns of the return of the regime of Bashar Al-Assad

If the Kurdish authorities ensure that the agreement with Damascus is military, the reversal of the balance of power may be translated into political terrain.

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Syrian soldiers hold up the portrait of President Bashar al-Assad after deploying in the city of Manbij on 15 October.
Syrian soldiers hold up the portrait of President Bashar al-Assad after deploying in the city of Manbij on 15 October. AFP

Kobane, the city that was the symbol of the Kurds' stubborn resistance to the Islamic State (IS) organization, is, since Wednesday, October 16th, the emblem of the great return of the Assad regime in northeastern Syria. In the early evening, a convoy of buses and trucks filled with pro-Damascus fighters entered Kobane. This detachment regained control of the locality from the hands of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the predominantly Kurdish militia that had dominated the scene since its victory over the jihadists in January 2015.

According to images shot on site and broadcast on social networks, the entry of loyalist forces has generated a lot of noise but not much fervor. A small number of people only came out in the passage of vehicles, which, in the absence of acclamation, abused sirens and honking.

Only reluctantly, under the pressure of the Turkish offensive launched on October 9, and because of the withdrawal of American forces, ordered by Donald Trump, that Kobane, like all Kurdish cities of North-East Syria, has resolved to this transfer of power.

Read also In Syria, "urgency pushes Kurds to turn to Assad and Russia"

The movement began on October 13, with an agreement sponsored by Russia, between the PYD (Party of Democratic Union), head of the semi-autonomous Kurdish enclave, and the government of Damascus. And since that day, every hour that elapses increases the extent of land reclaimed by the loyalists in Djezireh (the island in Arabic), the nickname of the area, bordered by the Euphrates to the west and the Tigris to the East. In the manner of a game of dominoes, the towns and villages that dot this huge steppe landscape and which had escaped the central power for sometimes eight years fall one after the other in his purse.

Blocking Turkish troops and their followers

The regular army first invested Tell Tamer and Ayn Issa, two locks that control the east-west and north-south roads of the region. The regime is also back in the city of Al-Tabqa, on the shores of Lake Assad and the dam that closes it, the largest hydropower plant in the country. The nearby air base, also taken over by the Syrian army, saw the August 2014 massacre of more than 100 soldiers by IS fighters.

Government forces also deployed about ten kilometers north of Manbij, a commercial crossroads between Aleppo and Rakka. Armored vehicles have taken up positions on the right bank of the Sajjour River, alongside the FDS, in order to block Turkish troops and their troops, located on the other side of the watercourse. If clashes between the two edges are not excluded, an open confrontation seems unlikely, Moscow, new master of the game in Syria, having described this scenario as"Unacceptable".


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