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On January 29, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces fully secured the town of Abu al-Duhur in eastern Idlib after a series of clashes with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda).
Meanwhile, pro-militant sources reported that the Syrian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces started conducting airstrikes in the area of Saraqib in a move described as a preparation for the upcoming SAA offensive there.
Overnight on January 30, a Turkish military convoy reportedly reached the area of Al-Eis in southern Aleppo in order to establish an observation point there. According to the media wing of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), several vehicles of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) are now stationed there.
The Turkish Armed Forces and Turkish-backed militant groups have so far failed to achieve any notable progress against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Afrin area since they re-entered Bursaya Mount. An intense fighting is ongoing.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are going to send reinforcements to help the YPG fighting the Turkish Army. On January 29, the SDF’s Syriac Military Council officially announced that it will send its fighters to Afrin.
On January 29, a top HTS commander in southern Syria, Abo Hamza al-Urduni, was killed in a car bomb attack at a check point near the town of Musifarah in the countryside of Daraa, according to opposition sources. In total, some 10 militants were reportedly killed. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but according to local sources the incident was most likely sparked by the intra-militant tensions in southern Syria.
The Syrian National Dialogue Congress in the Russian city of Sochi started on January 30. The event is set to bring together the government, the opposition and representatives of all Syrian ethnic and religious groups. The goal is to advance the political settlement of the conflict, with special attention on elections and the constitution. In total, 1,600 invitations were sent to the event, which is backed by Russia, Iran and Turkey. However, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party – the political wing of the YPG as well as some other militant groups deeply influenced by the US-led block are not participating in the congress for various reasons.