Turkish army deploys to Afrin: SOHR
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Turkish army on Friday redeployed in Afrin, after Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) entered Afrin on Thursday and clashes continued between rival factions in the area, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) war monitor reports.
“Turkish forces redeployed in Jinderes district in Afrin countryside and Al-Bab city in northern Aleppo countryside, amid the arrival of more military reinforcements including tanks and personnel carriers to Afrin,” the SOHR report said.
The SOHR report said it was “an attempt to control the situation, after Turkish forces withdrew from the outskirts of Afrin city due to factional infightings erupting in the area.”
Charles Lister, a senior fellow and the Director of the Syria and Countering Terrorism and Extremism programs at the Middle East Institute (MEI), also shared a video on Twitter showing a Turkish army convoy patrolling Afrin, which he said shows that there is "no indication that Ankara seeks to reverse HTS’s push.
In a piece for the MEI, he noted that in June 2022, when HTS made a brief foray into Afrin, a phone call from a senior figure within Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) saw HTS forces turn back and return to Idlib.
"On this occasion, no such Turkish order appears to have come," he added. He added there is a "concern is now mounting that HTS intends to expand further toward Azaz."
Furthermore, SOHR noted that clashes are still taking place in a camp near Kafr Janna village, which HTS is trying to take control off.
”Turkey has taken a hands-off approach to Afrin. It has subcontracted Afrin to Syrian rebel groups, and has an intelligence presence but not a significant military presence,” Nicholas Heras, Deputy Director of the Human Security Unit at New Lines Institute in Washington DC, told Kurdistan 24.
Clashes erupted between Turkish factions spread to Afrin after Muhammad Abdullatif, known as Abu Ghannoum, a Syrian opposition activist was assasinated by a member of the Hamza division last week in Syria’s al-Bab.
Read More: HTS enters Afrin for first time: SOHR
While some Turkish-backed factions are allied to the HTS, others have attempted to prevent HTS expanding control in northwest Syria.
As a result of the infighting, the HTS for the first time could enter Afrin city that was under the control by Turkish-backed factions since Turkey and it's proxy forces took over Afrin in 2018.