Second round of Russian airstrikes hit Turkish-backed rebels in Afrin
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – For the second time, Russian jets have targeted Turkish-backed groups in Turkish-occupied Afrin, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor reported on Sunday.
SOHR reported that a fighter jet targeted the frontlines of Basofan and Berrad villages in northern Aleppo with several missiles.
Also, an anonymous source in Afrin told Kurdistan 24 that Russian warplanes fired missiles at targets around the villages of Barrad and Basile in the Şerewa district this morning.
The source claimed 3 militants were killed, and 10 injured in the attack.
The Syria-based North Press News Agency reported that the Russian airstrikes targeted the Hamza Division.
Also on Saturday, at least five airstrikes hit positions belonging to the Turkish-backed "al-Jabha al-Shamiyyah" (Levantine Front) in Basofan and Basalehiyah in Sherawa district in south-west Afrin.
It’s not the first time Russia has bombed Turkish backed-groups in northwestern Syria, but usually Russia has refrained from targeting them in Turkish-occupied Afrin.
Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels groups took control of Afrin from the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on March 18, 2018, in an operation codenamed “Olive Branch”. At the time, Russia allowed Turkey to use the airspace to bomb Afrin and withdrew its forces from the area.
Since then there have been shelling and clashes between YPG-backed forces in northern Aleppo (including in some villages near Sherawa) and the Turkish-backed groups in Afrin.
It’s also possible the Russian airstrikes are meant to put pressure on Turkey.
The Russian airstrikes took place a few days before a planned meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Sept. 29.
During a meeting on September 13 between Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Moscow, both called on foreign forces to leave Syria, a statement seen as a message to Turkey and the US, which both have troops in the war-torn country.