A number of Russian troops and vehicles have entered the area of the Afrin Canton controlled by fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), according to photos and videos appearing online.
Pro-Kurdish media activists speculate that the Russian military is going to set up a military base or even a “joint military base” in the YPG-held area near the border with Turkey.
According to more neutral sources, Russian military servicemen are setting up two posts near the border in order to monitor possible clashes between Kurdish militias and the Turkish military.
This comes amid increasing US military activity along the Syrian-Turkish border. According to Kurdish sources in northeastern Syria, US troops have been patrolling the Kurdish-held areas bordering Turkey. Thus, US troops are a buffer force that should prevent Ankara from combating Kurdish militias in Syria.
The YPG which is a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and a core of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is described by Turkey as a terrorist group.
In the province of Raqqah, the SDF is very close to capturing the whole area of the town of Tabqah from ISIS. When Tabqah is secured, the SDF, supported by the US-led coalition’s air power, artillery, and military advisors, will focus on securing the Tabqa dam and will continue attempts to further isolate Raqqah.
Earlier this week, western backed militant groups captured Al-Humaymah southwest of Deir Ezzor. This operation was part of the broader effort aimed at expanding control along the Syrian-Iraqi border.
With the collapsing of ISIS defenses in central Syria and in the area of the Iraqi city of Mosul, various factions involved in the Syrian conflict have increased efforts aimed at gaining control of as many important areas as possible.
While there is little doubt that the SDF, with significant US military assistance, will be able to seize Raqqah one day, the Deir Ezzor countryside and areas along the Syrian-Iraqi border will remain contested between US-backed forces and the Syrian government.
Fighting between government troops and ISIS terrorists continued near the Talilah crossroad east of Palmyra. ISIS has been conducting harassment operations against the Syrian Arab Army in the area in order to prevent a possible government advance along the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor road.
Government forces, led by the Republican Guard, continued military operations against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies in the district of Qaboun in eastern Damascus. Government troops there are seeking to divide the pocket into two separated parts. This will be a major move, if accomplished, on the way to a full liberation of the area from militants.
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