Russian forces have returned to the northern Syrian town of Tell Rifaat and its surroundings, which are controlled by Kurdish forces, after a widely-reported withdrawal.
On April 13, the withdrawal of Russian Military Police units was reported by the Hawar News Agency. According to the agency, the units withdrew from Tell Rifaat as well as from the nearby areas of Sherawa and Ksht’ar.
Later, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the Syrian Arab Army and Iranian-backed forces had deployed reinforcements in the area.
The reinforcements, which included battle tanks and armored personnel carriers, took positions near the government-held Shiite towns of Nubl and al-Zahraa.
After Russians withdraw from few positions in Tal Rifat area,SAA sent there soldiers and equipment pic.twitter.com/8VWL5iaTNO
— ZOKA (@200_zoka) April 14, 2021
The reports of a Russian withdrawal led to speculations of a near Turkish-led attack on Tell Rifaat and its surroundings. The Turkish military and its proxies are present right to the north of the Kurdish-held area, in occupied Afrin.
These speculations came to an end on April 14. The North Press Agency and several other news outlets confirmed that Russian forces had returned to their posts in Tell Rifaat and its surroundings.
The withdrawal may have been a maneuver meant to pressure the People’s Protection Units and other Kurdish forces in Tell Rifaat to allow the deployment of additional units from the SAA and Iranian-backed forces.
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