The National Syrian Army (NSA), backed by Turkish special forces, launched a surprise military operation against remnants of the Kurdish People’s Protections Units (YPG) in the northern Aleppo countryside on May 4.
Few hours after the beginning of the operation, the NSA announced that its forces have taken control of the key town of Ma’arnaz south of the occupied area of Afrin. The group’s media wing released several photos showing Turkish-backed militants in the center of the town.
The YPG has not released any statement on the situation in northern Aleppo yet. No heavy clashes were reported in the area. This allowed some local observers to suggest that Ma’arnaz was handed over to the NSA under a secret Turkish-Kurdish agreement.
Untis of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Russian Military Police are currently deployed along YPG forces in the city of Tell Rifaat, few kilometers south of Ma’arnaz. The situation in the city is currently calm.
Sources close to the NSA said that the operation will be limited to Ma’arnaz and its neighboring town, al-Malikiah, that’s still under the YPG control, as for now. The operation is reportedly aimed at stopping the continues attacks of the so called Afrin Liberation Forces (ALF), which killed a Turkish soldier and injured another a day earlier.
The situation in northern Aleppo will likely escalate in the upcoming few hours. The YPG and the SAA may launch a joint counter-attack to recapture Ma’arnaz.
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