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Russian Troops Return to Aleppo Countryside after Sudden Withdrawal

Russian Troops Return to Aleppo Countryside after Sudden Withdrawal

Thursday, 15 April, 2021 - 09:15
Russian military convoy in Aleppo countryside, north Syria (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Russian forces returned to Tal Rifaat and Kashtaar bases, under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), after a sudden withdrawal on Tuesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that a military convoy of pro-Iranian militias headed near Tal Rifaat, carrying heavy and medium weapons and military and logistical equipment, as well as fighters and armored vehicles.

It entered the area to secure the towns mainly inhabited by Shiites and protect them from any possible military operation by the Turkish forces and the National Army supported by Ankara.

Earlier, Russian forces withdrew from Kashtaar and Tel Rifaat bases in the northern countryside of Aleppo, with four columns of armored and military vehicles, and more than 100 members of the Russian forces.

Activists released videos showing two Russian troop convoys with one leaving Tal Rifaat, and another near Fafeen, withdrawing towards Aleppo.

Local sources suggested the Russian forces withdrew because of “disagreements” with the SDF on providing the regime with fuel, grain, and some goods.

Russia also asked SDF to open three crossings and oversee them, but it refused the proposal, according to Hikmat Khalil, deputy head of the Executive Body of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC).

Other sources suggest the sudden withdrawal precedes a total evacuation from the region, which allows the Turkish forces and its affiliated forces to launch a military operation to control Tal Rifaat and the areas north of Aleppo.

The operation also aims to remove SDF, especially that the contact areas with the National Army are witnessing intermittent clashes and infiltration attempts.

The SDF is trying to carry out military operations and lay landmines in areas under the control of the National Army near Azaz, in north Aleppo.

The town of Tal Rifaat and more than 30 nearby villages are under the control of the Kurdish fighters.

It is a major point that connects Gaziantep in Turkey with Aleppo through Bab al-Salama crossing in Azaz, controlled by Turkish-backed opposition factions.

The Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria indicated in a statement on April 9 that five civilians were killed, and six others injured in artillery shelling by the pro-Turkish factions in Tal Rifaat, under the control of the SDF coalition, which hosts a Russian base and regime positions.

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