Late on June 4, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) deployed large reinforcements near the town of Ain Issa in the northern Raqqa countryside, which is controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SAA and the Russian Military Police established a network of positions in SDF-held areas in northeastern Syria in 2019 to reinforce a de-escalation agreement that froze the conflict between the group and Turkish forces. The positions spread from the northwestern Aleppo countryside to the northern Raqqa countryside and the northern countryside of al-Hasakah.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the reinforcement that arrived in Ain Issa included several battle tanks, armored vehicles, howitzers and dozens of troops.
The deployment came just hours after a series of Turkish artillery strikes on the SDF-held part of the northern al-Hasakah countryside, which left six soldiers of the SAA wounded.
The Turkish military and its proxies are currently preparing to launch a new operation against the SDF in northern and northeastern Syria with the aim of establishing a 30-kilometer safe zone along the border line with Turkey.
In a recent speech, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the main targets of the upcoming operation will be SDF-held towns of Tell Rifaat and Manbij in the northern countryside of Aleppo. The SAA and the Russian Military Police maintain a strong presence near both towns.
Damascus, who condemned Turkey’s plans to launch a new operation in Syria on several occasion, appears to be determined to take a stand against Ankara this time.