On June 19 afternoon, al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) withdrew all of its forces from the Turkish-occupied Syrian area of Afrin in the northern Aleppo countryside back to the nearby Greater Idlib region.
HTS stormed Afrin with a large force a day earlier in support of the Ahrar al-Sham Movement which was attacked by the al-Shamiya Front and other factions of the Syrian National Army (SNA) as a result of a months-old territorial dispute.
While Ahrar al-Sham itself is a faction of the SNA, its current leadership is very close to HTS. In fact, al-Shamiya and several others factions in Turkish-occupied areas consider Ahrar al-Sham to be a mere proxy of HTS.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, HTS withdrew from Afrin upon orders from Turkey. Just hours before the withdrawal, the terrorist group’s force was situated a few kilometers to the south of Afrin city center.
Clashes between Ahrar al-Sham and al-Shamiya in the villages of Tall Battal and Abla, which are the focal point of the conflict, have also came to a halt.
Captured towns by Ahrar ash sham on southern Afrin. They’ve returned to their posts in Dayr Ballot and Darat ezza. Levant front deployed troops to these towns.
No any map change. pic.twitter.com/QtmqjJfQl8
— MapperKrumm (@Krummapper) June 19, 2022
Turkey is reportedly making efforts now to broker an agreement between Ahrar al-Sham and al-Shamiya. The suggested agreement would see the situation in Turkish-occupied areas in the northern Aleppo countryside returning to the way it was before the conflict broke out.
At least eight people were killed and eleven others were wounded in the intra-rebel battle. Around half of the casualties were civilians.
HTS’s rapid advance in Afrin confirmed that it enjoys strong influence in Turkish-occupied areas in the northern Aleppo countryside. This successful endeavor will likely encourage the terrorist group to further expand its presence in these areas in the near future.
Turkey appears to be in a hurry to end the conflict between its proxies, likely to resume preparations for its upcoming operation against Kurdish forces in the northern Aleppo countryside.
- Kurdish, Pro-Government & Iranian-Backed Forces Set Up Joint Operation Room In Syria’s Aleppo
- HTS, Ahrar Al-Sham Push Deeper Into Turkish-Occupied Afrin In Northern Syria (Videos, Photos)