Turkey reconnects FSA-held Idlib with Azaz

    The Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) on Saturday captured seven more residential areas, including the Rajo town center northwest of Afrin, Anadolu's news agency reported.

    According to the agency, the villages of Ramadiyah and Hamelika villages of Jinderes district -- located southwest of Afrin -- Ali Bazan, Qariqin, and Shamanli villages of Sharan district -- located northeast of Afrin -- and Badinli village of Rajo district

    Crescent-shaped corridor

    • West of Afrin: On March 3, the Turkish military announced the capture of Ali Bazan, Qariqin, and Shamanli villages of Sharan district, and the Badinli village of Rajo district.

    • Southwest of Afrin, Ramadiyah and Hamelika villages of the Jinderes district were reportedly also captured.

    • Since February 26, areas controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces in northern Syria have been reconnected in a crescent-shaped corridor from the northwestern Idlib province and Azaz eastward, Andalou's state-run news agency reported.

    • YPG access: Backed by Turkey, the FSA captured villages northwest of Afrin from the Kurdish-led People's Protection Units (YPG), cutting the militia's access to the Syria-Turkey border.

    • Afrin has been a major stronghold for the YPG since July 2012, when the Syrian government left the city to the group without a fight.

    Turkish backing

    • Earlier this year, Turkey launched the "Operation Olive Branch" military operation to remove the YPG from Afrin, close to its borders.

    • As reported on February 26, the Turkish military and the FSA have captured 87 villages from YPG control, including the town of Sheikh Horuz on the road to Afrin - a stronghold of the YPG.

    • Turkey considers the YPG a "terrorist group" with ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is also listed as a "terrorist" organization by the European Union (EU).

    • In February 2016, the connection between Idlib and northern Aleppo was cut after Syrian government forces captured the Aleppo highway, which also goes to Turkey's southeastern Kilis province, and another highway along the towns of Qabasin and Ratyan, north of Aleppo.

    • In a phone call on Monday between French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the latest developments in Syria, Erdogan said that "utmost care" is being taken to avoiding harming civilians.

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    SOURCE: Anadolu news agency


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