Turkey defied international calls for a ceasefire and shelled parts of northern Syria on Monday, insisting it would not allow Kurdish-led forces to seize key areas along the border. The renewed shelling and fresh violence elsewhere in Syria -- including a suspected air strike that killed nine people at a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders -- cast doubts on international efforts for a ceasefire to take hold this week. Only last week, United States Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, announced the delivery of desperately needed aid over the next few days to besieged Syrian cities, followed by a “cessation of hostilities” within a week on the way to a more formal cease-fire. Since the start of the conflict, more than 4.4 million Syrian have fled the country.
“We have agreed to implement a nationwide cessation of hostilities in one week’s time,” Kerry said. “The real test is whether all the parties honor those commitments,” he added. Turkey’s duplicity in the whole Syrian affair against the Islamic State is well known to international observers. In the past, Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Ankara of protecting oil supplies from the Islamic State group to Turkey. Meanwhile, Turkmen rebels, on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey, who call themselves a part of the Syrian Liberation Army, have been protecting the routes on which oil tankers have been moving regularly from Syria to Turkey for the Western market. Such a smuggling enterprise is allegedly controlled by Bilal Erdogan, son of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. For the uninitiated, Turkey is a member of NATO, and therefore, a military ally of the United States. Turkish businessmen have reportedly even struck lucrative deals with ISIS oil smugglers. These deals reportedly added an estimated $10 million per week to the terror group’s coffers. The links between ISIS and Turkish administration, however, grow further. Putin’s claims are further backed by a recent US Special Forces raid in eastern Syria, which was successful in claiming the life of Abu Sayyaf, the leading ISIS official responsible for the group’s illegal oil trade. While going through Sayyaf’s compound, US soldiers found hard drives that established close links between ISIS leaders and certain Turkish officials. What’s more unfortunate is that that Turkish jets, under the cover American fighter planes, have in fact targeted Kurdish fighters, and known as the YPG, which has been the only effective ground force against IS. Unfortunately, Washington may do little to prevent Turkey’s belligerence.