Having conducted two offensives into Northeast Syria, Turkey has been intensifying attacks on the district centre of Ayn Issa, its villages and the M4 international highway since 2019.
The M4 international highway is one of the most important roads connecting the Jizre region to the Euphrates, Manbij and Afrin regions. It also connects all the central cities and regions of Syria.
The M4 runs through northeast Syria from Tall Kochak (Til Koçer) at the Iraqi border through Qamishli (Qamishlo) in Jizre, Tall Tamr (Til Temir) in al-Hasakah, Ain Issa, Manbij and Bab in the Euphrates region to Aleppo.
The highway continues to the west eventually reaching Latakia. Near Seraqib in Idlib province, the M4 joins the M5 to the south, which goes to Hama, Homs, Damascus, Lebanon and Jordan.
The M4 is of great importance as it connects the western and southwestern regions of northeast Syria. It connects the most important areas of Syria, is used for trade and transport, and is of great strategic importance.
90 percent rate of destruction in villages close to M4
Turkey entered Afrin in 2018, and on 9 October 2019 also entered Ras al-Ayn (Serêkaniyê) and Tell Abyad (Girê Spî), regions that had previously been controlled by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES). Aiming to take control of the M4 through Ayn Issa, 33km from the Turkish border, Turkey and it mercenaries now carry out attacks on surrounding villages with howitzers, missiles, tanks and drones almost daily. As a result of these drone and artillery attacks 90% of the villages close to the M4 have been destroyed, ANHA reports.
Why are Turkey and its mercenaries attacking Ayn Issa?
Ayn Issa is located on the M4 highway, 86km southeast of Kobani, 52km north of ar-Raqqah (Reqa) and 45km south of Tell Abyad. Another important feature of Ayn Issa is that it is the place where the AANES was established. There are many AANES institutions in Ayn Issa.
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Girê Spî General Command Member Baz Efrîn evaluated the attacks of Turkey on the M4 as follows, ANHA reports.
“Turkey is increasing military operations to distract from the crisis it is in. Erdoğan wants to prevent people from thinking about the economic problems, and get them to focus on the war. It also wants to control the M4 so that it will be able to cut connections between important centres,” Baz Efrîn says.
He also states that the SDF are ready to defend their lands, and neither Turkey nor its mercenaries will be able to achieve their goals.
“It is our right to defend our lands, the people of AANES will defend their lands.”