On March 25, some pro-militant souces released many photos and videos from Tadef, arguing that the Syrian army had fully withdrew from this strategic town south of al-Bab in the eastern countryside of Aleppo. According to these reports, pro-Turkish militants entered the town in the morning.
Hint: The Syrian army declared control over Tadef in on February 26, 2017 after ISIS terrorists had withdrew from it.
— عبـدالوهـاب (@abdulwahab2070) March 25, 2017
These reports were widely dissiminated in pro-government and pro-militant media outlets as “breaking news”.
However, no evidence was provided that Euphrates Shield forces had deployed troops to the town. Then, leader of the Free Syrian Army’s Sultan Murad Division officially denied that pro-Turkish forces had entered town. He added that Euphrates Shield Forces have no plans to do it in the future (source).
The explanation how the reports about the Syrian army withdrawal from Tadef appeared is here:
- There were almost no Syrian army troops in Tadef. The town was used as a no man land used for commerce between the government-held and Turkey-held areas;
- Tadef was a transfer point for militants evacuated by the Syrian army from the Alwaer neighborhood of Homs to Jarabulus. (This fact also confirms the idea of Tadef – mostly its northern part – as a buffer zone used for evacuation of militants retreating from across Syria and even for smuggling from both sides);
- Some pro-militant media activists used this to make photos and videos which could be used to confirm their claims.
- The Tadef issue became a part of the ongoing propaganda campaign against government forces launched by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies which are now involved in an intense fighting in northern Hama.
It’s important to note that during the last weeks some Euphrates Shield fighters repeatedly harassed government forces in Tadef, sniping and kidnapping Syrian army soldiers.
These incidents continued even after Turkey detained many fighter from the Free Syrian Army’s Hamza Divistion to warn other “opposition fighters” from attack government troops. This shows that the Turkish control over Euphrates Shield militants is not so tight even when it comes to “moderate” members of the Free Syrian Army.
More photos shown by pro-militant sources as a proof of the claim: