— Ömer Özkizilcik (@OmerOzkizilcik) 19 January 2018
On January 19, thousands of fighters of Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups started taking offensive positions on the eastern and western flanks of Afrin area in the northern Aleppo countryside, according to a report of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
The SOHR added that the Turkish-backed FSA and the Turkish Army are preparing to attack Afrin from ten directions simultaneously.
For the sixth day in a row, the Turkish Army continued shelling positions of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) around the city of Afrin. In response, the YPG shelled a position of the FSA in the town of Azaz east of Afrin, according to Kurdish sources.
— MOHAMMED GHORAB (@MGhorab3) 19 January 2018
— الجزيرة مباشر (@ajmubasher) 19 January 2018
Earlier, the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that Russian forces had withdrawn from all of its positions in Afrin area ahead of the upcoming military operation of the Turkish Army against the YPG.
However, the SOHR denied that the Russian forces withdrew Afrin area. Moreover, the Lebanese Mayadeen TV said that Russian forces set up new observation points in Tell ‘Ajar east of Afrin city. This could mean that Russia is trying to delay the long-awaited Turkish military operation.
While many Turkish activists believe that the Turkish operation against the YPG in Afrin will begin in the upcoming hours, many Syrian and Kurdish activists say that a political solution is still possible through the Russian mediation.
A political solution may include the YPG handing over its positions in Afrin to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and setting up a joint security mechanism in the area.