The infamous Turkish military convoy heading south from Aleppo Governorate towards Idlib, has once again been the subject of online controversy. Pictures from terrorist social media outlets including Hayʼat Taḥrīr al-Shām (HTS) still commonly referred to as Al-Nusra front, the main Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, have shown tucks which formed part of the convoy after a severe explosion.
The explosion is said to have happened near Atareb on the Aleppo/Idlib border where the convoy had been parked throughout most of the day during the 30th of January.
The following images were posted on HTS/Nusra’s Telegram channel before being deleted. Nevertheless the images of the explosion have continue to be circulated widely by international journalists.
Really weird: HTS telegram posted these two photos from the Turkish convoy, but then they deleted it shortly after pic.twitter.com/MjcfjOWtFj
— Leith Aboufadel (@leithfadel) January 30, 2018
What is clear is that the rumours of a Syrian Arab Airforce attack on the Turkish convoy, like the photos of the apparent blast to parts of the convoy early on the evening of the 30th, are part of a clear attempt by Al-Qaeda and other Takfiri groups to stir tensions between Syria and Turkey. The goal is to inflame populist anti-Syria sentiment among the Turkish public, particularly among supporters of President Erdogan’s AK Party, whilst simultaneously inflaming tensions among Syrian patriots resentful at any foreign incursions in their sovereign country. Most experts agree that the convoy fell victim to either a landmine or crude IED.
The timing of this incident is crucial, as the entire convoy scandal began hours before the first plenary session of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in the Russian city of Sochi. The goal among those circulating rumours of Syrian and allied attacks on Turkish vehicles is to create friction between the Syrian Arab Republic and the Turkish mediators at the Congress.
Fortunately, while many social media users as well as some “alt-media” pundits took the bait, cooler heads prevailed and Damascus assured the international community that the incident had nothing to do with Syria, while Turkey’s silence on the matter is a tacit acknowledgement that it was not a state actor who was responsible for any incident surrounding the convoy.