Turkish-backed FSA clears more Syrian villages of DAESH

More success for Operation Euphrates Shield after the Turkish-backed FSA have now cleared up around 400 square kilometers in Syria of DAESH.

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Members of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Operation Euphrates Shield has yielded more success after the Free Syrian Army (FSA) supported by Turkish Armed Forces cleared a further 10 villages from DEASH and the YPG in Syria.

A statement by Turkish Armed Forces on Monday confirmed that approximately 400 square kilometres have now been cleared of terrorists since the launch of the operation on August 24.

The operation is focused on the Turkey-Syria border where Turkey aims to improve security and rid the area of DAESH and stop the YPG’s advancement in the region.

The YPG is the militant wing of the PYD, which is considered by Turkey to be the Syrian extension of the PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, EU, and NATO.


Turkey's prime minister’s office on Sunday said 10 villages around Jarabulus and three around Al-Rai had been taken over by Turkish-backed FSA.

A string of villages in northern Syria have been captured by FSA forces, a commander on the ground said Sunday, following the group’s previous success in freeing Jarabulus from DAESH.

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan was one of the first reporters to gain access to the city after it come under full control of Turkish-backed FSA:

The FSA commander, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of DAESH retribution, said eight villages within a 20 kilometre (12 mile) radius of Jarabulus, which lies on the Euphrates River, had been taken from YPG forces.

He also said seven militants were killed and a quantity of ammunition was confiscated.


YPG appears to be reinforcing the Syrian town of Manbij, captured this month from DAESH, with weapons and personnel, regional security sources told Reuters on Monday.

Manbij, on the west bank of the Euphrates River, was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which was mainly led by the YPG, in an offensive backed by the United States.

Militants of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) walk on the rubble of damaged shops and buildings in the city of Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, on August 10, 2016. Image: Reuters

Turkey and the US have some serious differences over issues surrounding northern Syria.

Ankara considers the PYD a terrorist group, though the US administration regards the group as the most effective ally on the ground in the fight against DAESH.

This dichotomy has recently led to growing tension between Ankara and Washington.

However, the US has officially supported the Turkish-backed operation in northern Syria which could imply that the allies might have reached an understanding in the ongoing operation.

US Vice-President Joe Biden visited Turkey last week and Operation Euphrates Shield had reportedly begun when his plane was en route to Ankara.

A Syrian rebel commander said on Sunday that Turkey-backed fighters aimed to capture the town from YPG-allied forces.

Sources told Reuters that trucks and minibuses loaded with weapons, equipment and personnel were moving from east to west in northern Syria, leading them to believe the YPG was reinforcing Manbij.

However, a spokesman for the PYD told Reuters on Monday that local military councils in the cities of Manbij and Jarabulus are being reinforced, but not by the YPG, "because the YPG is east of the Euphrates."

Vehicles try to cross a highway leading to Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, on August 7, 2016. Image: Reuters

The PYD announced three autonomous areas or “cantons” called Afrin, Jazira and Kobane (from west to the east) following the withdrawal of Syrian regime forces in November 2013.

The group calls this region Rojava.

Turkey declared any incursion west of the Euphrates River by the YPG a red line at a National Security Council (MGK) meeting on June 29, 2015.

The YPG already controls an uninterrupted 400 km stretch of the border and intends to take over crucial territory between Jarablus and Azaz, which is mostly controlled by DAESH, before Operation Euphrates Shield hinders their advance.

If it seizes that crucial swathe of territory, it will be able to control most of the Syrian border with Turkey which would increase Ankara’s concerns that a PKK-affiliated entity is getting an upper hand in northern Syria.

In a further complication, Ankara has currently been facing a renewed armed campaign by the PKK in its eastern and southeastern regions, which partly border YPG-controlled territories.

TRTWorld and agencies