Ankara, Moscow Review Deployment in Tel Rifaat
Turkey began Sunday withdrawing its forces from an observation point west of Hama where two Turkish soldiers were injured following an attack a day earlier by Syrian regime forces.
Local sources said that Turkish Army helicopters began evacuating the observation point in the Shashabo Hill in the countryside of west Hama after regime forces launched the attack.
Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Sunday that Turkish and Russian officials are reviewing deployment of their forces in the Syrian border region of Tel Rifaat.
In an interview with broadcaster Kanal 7, Oktay said Turkey and Russia were discussing developments in the region and that Turkish military operations along the border would continue until all threats had been eliminated.
“The agreement was for us to stop there (Tel Rifaat), but if these attacks continue, this may take a different shape. We are discussing this with Russia,” the Turkish official said.
Moscow signaled Sunday it would expand military operations around Idlib to face the probable creation of forces that plan to launch attacks on the city of Hama.
Idlib is under the administrative control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is dominated by a faction previously known as al-Nusra Front.
Chief of Russia’s center for the reconciliation of conflicting parties in Syria Major-General Viktor Kupchishin said that militants in the south of the de-escalation zone in Idlib led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are creating a strike force and their attack on Hama is not ruled out.
On Sunday, the Turkish Army sent additional personnel and military equipment to units deployed along the border with Syria.
Meanwhile, shortly after the killing of a Turkish lieutenant, Turkish-backed Syrian factions announced Sunday that they controlled the two villages of Maraanaz and al-Malikiyah, the Kurdish forces’ major posts for attacking the city of Azaz.
The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it liberated the two northern Syrian villages from the YPG/PKK terror group.