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Turkey's ambition to become a major power in the Middle East by expanding its zone of influence in Syria is under threat after an ISIS video revealed alarming weaknesses in its top battle tank, the Leopard II, which is now being deployed against Kurdish forces in Northern Syria.

Over a week ago, the Turks launched a major offensive -- Operation Olive Branch (LOL) -- against the Kurds, who have been armed by the US. But so far the Turks and their Arab allies have failed to capture more than a few tiny villages. 

One reason for this relative failure seems to be the shortcomings of the Leopard II tank. The Turkish army has 354 of the tanks, which were built by Germany for a cost of $6 million each and then sold on to Turkey for a cheaper price. These impressive-looking tanks are the reason why Turkey has a strong military reputation in the region. 

But it seems that this may be vastly overrated. As reported by the Daily Mail:
"A German-made tank, which Berlin once dubbed one of the best in the world, has had its shortcomings embarrassingly exposed on the battlefield in Syria. Photos from the Turkish military operation dubbed 'Euphrates Shield', which began in August 2016, show the charred remains of one of the Leopard 2 tanks which was reportedly blown up with mines. The images - taken from an ISIS video published in January 2017 - show the tank with its turret completely blown off. Other pictures from the same conflict show Leopard 2s standing idle in ditches and snow after being severely damaged."
Leopard II destroyed by ISIS
Although it has a V12 twin-turbo engine, a armoured shell made from hardened steel and tungsten, and top speed of 42mph, the tank is clearly vulnerable to 4G warfare tactics, as ISIS has destroyed at least eight of them, using comparatively unsophisticated weapons. 

Leopard II tanks have now been seen in Syria, but, as this video shows, they are being used very cautiously for fear of losing more of them. 

The weakness of Turkey's armoured forces means that the Kurds and Turks are much more evenly matched than military analysts previously thought. As result it may be time for Turkish President Recep Erdogan to scale back his imperialistic rhetoric. On Friday (26th) he pledged to sweep Kurdish forces from the entire length of the border with Syria and capture the strategic town of Manbij:
"We will clear Manbij of terrorists," Erdogan told local leaders of the governing AK Party in Ankara. "No one should be disturbed by this because the real owners of Manbij are not these terrorists, they are our Arab brothers. From Manbij, we will continue our struggle up to the border with Iraq, until no terrorist is left."
These big words may be hard to carry out if Kurds can inflict the same losses on his tank forces that ISIS formerly did, which seems likely with their superior US-supplied weapons.

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