On June 24, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) confirmed that Russian forces are still present in areas held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern and northeastern Syria.
Several recent reports, most of which came from pro-Turkish media, claimed that Russian forces had withdrawn from the SDF-held town of Tell Rifaat in the northern Aleppo countryside.
Tell Rifaat is one of two towns recently named by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the main targets of any new Turkish military operation against the SDF in Syria. The other town was Manbij, which is also located in the northern Aleppo countryside.
The SHOR released a photo confirming that these reports were nothing but fake news. The photo shows Russian and Syrian flags over the main Russian base in Tell Rifaat.
The London-based monitoring group noted that Russian forces recently increased their presence in SDF-held areas in northern and northeastern Syria.
“The Russian forces, in contrast to the rumors about their withdrawal, have recently reinforced their positions in separate areas, whether in the northern countryside of Aleppo, or in the north and northeastern region of Syria,” the SOHR said in a report.
The fake news about a Russian withdrawal from SDF-held areas were likely apart of a Turkish propaganda stunt meant to demoralize the SDF.
The Kurdish-led group has been preparing nonstop to confront any new Turkish operation. The Syrian Arab Army has been also preparing for a possible confrontation with the Turkish military. The army is present in Tell Rifaat, Manbij and several other areas held by the group.
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