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Moscow Pressures US-backed SDF Near Syria’s Ain Issa

Moscow Pressures US-backed SDF Near Syria’s Ain Issa

Tuesday, 23 February, 2021 - 09:45
The humanitarian corridor in northwestern Syria’s Saraqib empty of civilians (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Russian forces in Syria attempted pressuring the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) into giving up control of some areas near the Ain Issa subdistrict, located northeast of the war-torn country.

This coincided with Russian forces also announcing plans for opening a humanitarian corridor between areas controlled by opposition armed factions and regime-held territory in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province.

A UK-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported the death of three fighters from the Turkey-backed Suleiman Shah faction and the injury of seven others after SDF fighters fired a heat-seeking missile at frontlines in Al-Musharefah town in Ain Issa.

Turkish forces, for their part, fired several rockets on Houshan and Abu Sorrah villages, located along the M4 Motorway. They also attacked an SDF mechanized digger nearby the silos in the east of Ain Issa.

The Observatory pointed out that Russian troops that abandoned the Ain Issa military base on Sunday had returned on Monday morning.

“Eight Russian armored vehicles were seen arriving in the base where the Russian flag has been raised again,” it reported, adding that it wasn’t clear what was accomplished by the withdrawal.

“No information has been reported about the gains Russians achieved and made them return so fast,” said the Observatory, explaining that Russia frequently extorts the SDF through repeated threats of withdrawal from Ain Issa.

Russians pulling out from the military base ignited anger and discontent among locals who fear of a possible military operation by Turkey.

The Observatory also revealed that Russian forces had pulled out from the main base in Ain Issa in a bid to pressure the SDF to make a deal with the Assad government.

“Russians are attempting to put pressure on the SDF after it rejected demands of the Russians and the Syrian government, including the demand to hand over villages near Ain Issa to Turkey, which would have cut off the road from Ain Issa to Kobani,” said the human rights watchdog.

The SDF also refused to hand over wheat stored in Shirakrak silos to regime forces.

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