Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has emerged victorious from its battle with the Turkish-backed 3rd Corps in the northern countryside of Syria’s Aleppo.
The battle ended on October 15 with an agreement that has apparently cemented the terrorist group control over the Kurdish area of Afrin and other Turkish-occupied parts of the northern Aleppo countryside.
After the agreement, which was signed by HTS leader Abu Mohamad al-Julani and the leader of the 3rd Corps Abu Yasin, HTS withdrew some of its militants from different parts of Afrin, including the city center. However, the area is still under the control of the terrorist group’s security forces.
The agreement will allow the 3rd Corps to continue its military activities as well as to return to its positions in Afrin. It will also keep Azaz under the control of the corps. HTS has already pulled back its militants from the frontline to the west of the town.
The battle in the northern Aleppo countryside broke out on October 10, when the 3rd Corps, which is led by the al-Shamiya Front, launched a large attack on the Turkish-backed Hamzah Division in the town of al-Bab. The Turkish-backed Suleyman Shah Division and HTS intervened the next in support of Hamzah militants. The 3rd Corps was then quickly expelled from Afrin to its stronghold in Azaz.
The new agreement may not hold up for too long. Several factions of the 3rd Corps, including the Islam Army, are not reportedly happy with the agreement. Furthermore, Hamzah and Suleyman Shah militants are still making attempts to recapture al-Bab. Heavy clashes were reported around the town on October 15 afternoon.
The Turkish military reinforced its positions in Afrin and several other areas in the northern Aleppo countryside in the last few days. However, it didn’t intervene in the battle. Ankara appears to be willing to accept HTS as the new ruler of these areas. However, many of the locals, mainly Kurds, are already fleeing out of fear of the terrorist group.