The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front announced its retreat from front-line positions against ISIS militants in northern Aleppo, relinquishing its power in that area to other opposition fighting factions, where Turkey seeks to establish a no-fly zone.
Nusra released a statement on Sunday criticising the US-Turkish plan, which is to push the ISIS insurgency away from the Syrian-Turkish border to preserve “Turkey’s national security,” rather than aiming their forces against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, accusing both of deviating the battle towards their own priorities.
Last month, both US and Turkey announced their plan to drive ISIS militants out of a 110-kilometre long strip of Syrian land along the Turkish border creating a “safe zone” where refugees could settle in and the Free Syrian Army, one of the opposition fighting factions, will be deployed to which also prevents the formation of a Kurdish state on Syrian lands.
People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is the militant wing of the PYD, seek to further expand their control over Syrian territories, as a plan to form a separate Kurdish state, that already stretch to about 400 kilometres along the Turkish border, including territories that were seized from ISIS militants last year.
“Facing this current scene, our only option was to withdraw and leave our front-line positions with ISIS in the northern Aleppo countryside for any fighting faction in these areas to take over,” the Nusra Front stated in their statement.
The statement also added that Nusra front would still be batlling ISIS militants in other areas, including Hama province and the Qalamoun mountains along the Lebanese border line.
It was reported, but not immediately confirmed, that Nusra front gave Jabhat al-Shamiya (the Levant Front), one of the opposition fighting factions, having control over two villages located north of Aleppo.
One of the Assad-controlled areas in northwestern Idlib province, including the village of al-Foua and nearby Kefraya, have witnessed heavy clashes with opposition fighting forces including Nusra Front on Monday, a pro-opposition activist group said.
Intense battles between opposition fighters, including Nusra Front, and Hezbollah-led pro-Assad fighting forces in al-Foua and Kefraya which started Sunday night, led to eight civilian fatalities, including a child, according to reports by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).