US calls for HTS withdrawal from Syria’s Afrin
The US Embassy in Syria described Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which had captured Afrin, as a "terrorist" organization and demanded its immediate withdrawal from the region amid ongoing clashes between the group and the 3rd division, a faction of the Syrian National Army which is backed by Turkey.
The embassy said on Twitter the US was “alarmed” by the recent incursion of HTS a into northern Aleppo.
We are alarmed by the recent incursion of HTS, a designated terrorist organization, into northern Aleppo. HTS forces should be withdrawn from the area immediately.— U.S. Embassy Syria (@USEmbassySyria) October 18, 2022
The embassy earlier said on its social media accounts that the US was deeply concerned about recent violence in the region and asked all parties to protect civilian lives and property.
On October 20, the HTS gained control over Afrin north of Aleppo, following fierce clashes with Third Legion, a faction affiliated with the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA).
On Monday, just a day after a fragile truce brokered by Turkey, clashes erupted once again between rival groups as both sides accused each other of reneging the deal.
Residents fear the extremist group seeks to capture the strategic border city of Azaz, the administrative center of the mainstream Turkish-backed opposition government.
A commander in a mainstream faction that is staying on the sidelines who requested anonymity said the HTS was approaching the main Bab al Salam border crossing with Turkey, northwest of Azaz.
Heavy Russian bombardment
Meanwhile Russia’s deputy military head in Syria Oleg Egorov said that Russian air raids targeted a rebel training camp near the towns of Qatma and Azaz northwest of Aleppo.
During the raids, a command center, weapons, ammunition and matériel depots, as well as 15 “technicals” outfitted with heavy machine guns and recoilless weapons, were destroyed, Egorov said.