Russia targets Turkish controlled areas in Syria
Russian fighter jets have launched air-to-air missiles in the vicinity of Afrin and Marea cities in the northern countryside of Aleppo, where Turkish armed forces and its proxies exert control, Syrian civil war watchdog SOHR (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights) reported.
The UK-based SOHR did not share any information about the cause of the missile fires, but noted that these shots coincided with the flight of eight Russian warplanes over the region.
On Wednesday, Russia reinforced its military presence in Tal Rifaat city of Northern Syria as fears of a Turkish ground offensive increased.
Tal Rifaat is located north of Aleppo near Turkish border and controlled by the Kurdish fighters and Syrian government troops.
Russia’s move came after Turkey launched airstrikes into Northern Syria, following a deadly Istanbul attack that Ankara blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YGP). Despite Kurdish groups denied involvement, Turkey also threatened a ground operation into the region.
Reports said on Friday that Turkey was seeking a deal with Russia to remove the YPG (Peoples’ Protective Units) from the Northern Syrian city of Tal Rifaat, 15 kilometers south of its borders in the coming days.
According to a “reliable SOHR source,” the Russians demanded the withdrawal of SDF combat forces from the centres of the two cities and the deployment of more troops of the Internal Security Forces (Asayish) instead, as well as maintaining Russian and regime troops in the surrounding areas of Manbij and Ain Al-Arab.