The reports said up to 18,000 soldiers would be deployed to take over and hold a strip of territory up to 30 kilometers deep and 100 kilometers long that currently is held by ISIS. It stretches from close to the Kurdish-controlled city of Kobani in the east to an area further west held by the pro-Western Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other rebel groups, beginning around the town of Mare [NOTE: "Marea" on the map]. This “Mare Line,” as the press calls it, is to be secured with ground troops, artillery and air cover, the reports said. Yeni Safak reported preparations were due to be finalized by next Friday.
It is being billed as an anti-Kurdish independence move but does not target the main Kurdish area in the northeast. Is this just for domestic non-Kurd consumption so as not to be seen as fighting
But does that anger their own Kurds or successfully warn them not to hope for too much to their south?
This will hurt ISIL. But Assad won't like Turkey entering Syria, and it paves the way for further Turkish intervention deeper into Syria--potentially to directly fight Assad's forces or to fill a vacuum if Assad retreats to his Alawite core region near the coast.
Of course, Turkey has been proposing something like this for a while and hasn't done it. Are the Turks simply tired of trying to get NATO backing? Or did they get it? Perhaps the apparent faltering of our non-jihadi Syrian rebel training effort is sobering about what is possible--and the Turkish option is possible.
Jordan is reported to be thinking of the same thing in the south:
The Jordanian military is actively implementing plans to create a humanitarian buffer zone in the south of the country, Sam Jones, Roula Khalaf and Erika Solomon report for the Financial Times.
Which is the whole point of the Southern Front rebels--which is what I called them before they started calling themselves that, interestingly enough.
Although I'll keep flogging my suspicion that regardless of whether the buffer zone is Jordan's main effort against ISIL or just guarding their flank, Jordan will lead a mechanized force (backed by our air power and special forces) into western Anbar when an Iraqi offensive against ISIL kicks off from the east side.
Stuff is happening, no doubt.
UPDATE: Turkey denies imminent plans to create that buffer zone:
Turkey has deployed additional troops and equipment along part of its border with Syria as fighting north of the city of Aleppo intensifies, security sources said, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said there were no immediate plans for any incursion.
But they have reinforced the border region, which increases their capability to do that.