Snap Shot l

What Happened: The Trump administration on Wednesday ramped up pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his inner circle with a load of new economic and travel sanctions for human rights abuses and blocking a settlement of the country’s conflict. The State Department and the Treasury said 39 Syrian individuals, including al-Assad and his wife, had been designated for the new sanctions.

Analysis: Current sanctions coupled with earlier sanctions imposed by the US and its allies combined with government corruption and infighting, a pandemic, and a financial crisis in neighbouring Lebanon – Syria’s main link to the outside world – have left the country teetering on the brink. These sanctions are meant to dent Assad’s support base in regime controlled areas and seek regime change from within. Iran has pledged to support regime economically in order to fend off pressure and save Assad who is crucial for Tehran’s regional interests.

TURKEY SENDS SPECIAL FORCES INTO NORTHERN IRAQ

What Happened: Turkey deployed special forces in northern Iraq on Wednesday in an operation against Kurdish rebels backed by air and artillery support as the conflict continues to escalate. Warplanes struck more than 150 Kurdish targets in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region, 15km (9 miles) from the Turkish border, the defence ministry said. It was the second such operation launched against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in recent days.

Analysis: The move is likely to increase friction between Ankara and Baghdad, which summoned the Turkish ambassador to protest Turkish air strikes on Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq this week. However, Kurdish authorities in Iraq’s northern autonomous region have remained quiet which has been interpreted as acquiescence to Turkey’s offensive. Iran is also targeting PKK in recent days with artillery strikes which reflects Ankara-Tehran understanding on imposing maximum pressure on the terrorist group.

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