On March 29, the Russian Military Police was redeployed in the city of Tell Rifaat and the Menagh airbase, southeast of the Turkish-occupied area of Afrin, according to several Turkish and Syrian opposition sources.
Currently Tell Rifaat is under the control of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
— Ali Özkök (@Ozkok_) March 29, 2018
Syrian pro-government sources also reported that that the SAA had stepped up its presence in Tell Rifaat and had deployed more units there on March 29.
Turkish sources claimed on March 27 that the Turkish Army and its proxies of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) had imposed their control over Tell Rifaat city. A day later, the YPG and the SAA proved that these claims were false.
Tell Rifaat city is supposedly one of the main targets of the Turkish military operation that was launched in Afrin area on January 20. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan even vowed to clean the city of the YPG earlier this month.
However, Russia appears to be against any Turkish attack on Tell Rifaat and the Menagh airbase north of it. Tell Rifaat now hosts tens of thousands of civilians that have been forcibly displaced by the Turkish Army from their villages and towns in Afrin area. This situation could be the reason behind the Russian decision to keep Turkey away from the northern city.