On March 23, the Turkish Army and its proxies from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) captured the villages of Fefitin, Berceke and Kushin in the southern part of the Afrin area in northwestern Syria, according to sources linked to the FSA.
Currently, the Turkish Army is now deplyoed within only 6km away from separating the Kurdish-held areas south of the city of Afrin from Idlib governorate. Some Turkish sources reported that this is the last goal of the Turkish military operation in the Afrin area [started on January 20]. The sources added that Turkey is not planning to attack the city of Tell Rifaat, east of Afrin.
Syrian pro-government and Kurdish sources had reported that large forces of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) were deployed at Tell Rifaat and the Mingh airbase, north of it, under a Turkish-Russian agreement. This may also confirm that Turkey is not planning to attack Tell Rifaat.
In response to these reports, thousands of civilians took at the streets in the Euphrates Shield (ES) areas in the northern Aleppo countryside on March 22 to protest against the Turkish decision to stop the military operation without capturing Tell Rifaat.
Previously, Turkey promised civilians and FSA fighters in the ES areas that it will capture Tell Rifaat and many villages in the framework of its operation in Afrin. Many fighters of the Turkish-backed FSA are originally from Tell Rifaat. This may further complicate the situation for Turkey if it chooses to halt its military operation without capturing the city.