01:07 GMT21 September 2020
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    Fierce clashes have been reported between fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and troops of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near the Syrian city of Al-Bab in Aleppo Province, 35 kilometers from the Turkish border.

    According to a correspondent of Sputnik Turkiye, clashes are concentrated in villages and residential areas along the highway connecting Manbij and Al-Bab.

    FSA fighters backed by Turkish warplanes and artillery are trying to prevent SDF forces from opening a corridor between Afrin and Cobani, two cantons strategically important for Kurds. SDF positions have come under heavy bombardment.

    At the same time, units of the Military Council of Manbij are fighting the Free Syrian Army. One of council commanders Ebu Emced told Sputnik Turkiye that over the recent days, Turkey has carried out four airstrikes on SDF positions in nearby villages, killing one and injuring three fighters.

    The Syrian Democratic Forces are a rebel group predominantly consisting of Kurdish fighters, as well as of Arabic and Turkmen forces, who are jointly fighting against the Daesh terrorist group. The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) are the main force of the SDF group. The SDF has long been supported by a United States-led coalition.

    The Free Syrian Army is a Turkey-sponsored militant group fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Earlier, FSA fighters underwent an arming and training program by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

    Earlier this year, FSA fighters were involved in a Turkish military operation in northern Syria, which was dubbed Euphrates Shield.

    This not the first time FSA and SDF fighters have clashed during the war in Syria. In late-August, clashes between the FSA and the SDF broke out after the Euphrates Shield operation began. The clashes took place near Tal Amaranth village north of Manbij, about 7 kilometers from the town of Jarabulus in northern Syria.

    Ankara sees the SDF as an enemy because of the fact that Kurds make up the backbone of the group. Turkey considers the YPG to be an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), labelled as a terrorist group and outlawed in the country.

    Since early-November, SDF forces have been involved in a coalition-led operation to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the Daesh self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria and Iraq. According to sources in the SDF command, the second stage of the offensive will soon begin.

    Earlier this week, it was reported that SDF forces were close to driving Daesh out of a key road linking Kobani and Afrin in northern Syria.

    Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the FSA is encircling the city of Al-Bab in northern Syria and will soon retake it from the Daesh terrorists with support of the Turkish armed forces.

    The liberation of a corridor between Afrin and Cobani would be another step to the creation of a Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria, which will be a heavy blow to Ankara’s plans.

    When the Turkish military launched the Euphrates Shield operation, its official goal was declared fighting Daesh. However, many experts and commentators pointed out that Ankara has targeted Kurds, in a bid to prevent Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria.


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    Kurds, terrorism, military conflict, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Daesh, Free Syrian Army (FSA), al-Bab, Turkey, Syria, Raqqa
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