In a rare development, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) shelled Turkish-backed forces in Raqqa’s northern countryside late on July 11.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that army troops in the town of Ain Issa carried out artillery strikes. Last year, the army deployed howitzers and rocket launchers near the town.
Turkish-backed forces responded to the strikes by targeting several positions of the SAA and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near Ain Issa.
“There is no information about any human losses, thus far,” the SOHR’s report reads.
The rare incident is a reflection of the growing tension between Turkish forces on one side and the SAA and the SDF on the other.
Earlier this month, the SAA deployed large reinforcements near Ain Issa. Heavy machine guns, battle tanks as well as hundreds of troops were deployed in the town’s vicinity.
A number of recent reports claimed that Turkey is preparing to launch a large operation against the SDF in north Raqqa and northeast Aleppo. While these reports are still unconfirmed, the SAA is clearly preparing for such possibility.