In The Wall Street Journal, Sune Engel Rasmussen and Dion Nissenbaum write (abridged):
Turkey launched a weekend offensive on a Syrian Kurdish enclave, raising tensions with the U.S. and opening a new front in the seven-year war after watching rivals gain ground on the battlefield.
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have been building for years, and Ankara has drifted toward Russia. Russia and Turkey have clashed in the past, including in 2015 when a Turkish jet shot down a Russian aircraft. That led to a suspension of military cooperation and a crippling Russian boycott of tourism to Turkey. Relations later resumed. Turkey is now working closely with Russia and Iran in ongoing political talks that have sidelined the U.S.
Turkey has called on Russia and Iran to put the brakes on the Syrian regime, whose forces are advancing through the last rebel stronghold—the northern province of Idlib. Turkey believes Syrian regime forces are also attacking moderate opposition forces who have helped Turkey in the fight against Islamic State, its Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said.
Turkish officials traveled to Moscow to win Russian approval for the attack on Afrin, as the area falls under Russia’s sphere of protection as part of an agreement between Russia, Turkey and Iran.
Read more here.