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Russia beefs up troop strength in Aleppo’s Afrin

Stepped-up Russian military activity follows recent Turkish army operations against PKK terrorist targets in northern Syria

03.05.2017
Russia beefs up troop strength in Aleppo’s Afrin FILE PHOTO

By Levent Tok

ALEPPO, Syria

Following recent Turkish military operations against the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliates, Russia has reportedly deployed fresh troops to several areas of Aleppo's Afrin district.

Russia now maintains a significant troop presence in the valley linking Afrin’s villages of Deir Sufan and Zeitouna, the Bifanun Mountain region and the village of Tal Acar.

Russia had already deployed troops to Afrin’s northwestern Kafr Janneh, Deir Ballut and Gazzavia areas, all of which are held by the PKK and its Syrian affiliate, the PYD.

In mid-March, Russian troops were deployed to Kafr Janneh, located some 10 kilometers north of Afrin’s district center, where they have begun carrying out joint patrols with PKK/PYD militants.

According to local sources, Russian soldiers -- along with terrorist elements -- have been stationed north of Kafr Janneh and along the valley linking Deir Sufan and Zeitouna near the Turkish border in order to monitor Turkish military dispositions.

Local sources also note that additional Russian forces have been deployed in Tal Acar’s Tal Rifaat district, which was captured by terrorist elements last year with the help of Russian air support.

According to anti-regime opposition groups, Russian troops -- accompanied by PKK/PYD terrorists -- are also currently patrolling the area between Tal Rifaat and the nearby Al-Bab district.

Local sources further say that Russian troops have set up an observation post in the Gazzawia region, which overlooks the opposition-held Darat Izza and Kaptan Cebel areas.

Syrian opposition sources tell Anadolu Agency that recent Russian military activity in Afrin could indicate plans by Russia, the Assad regime and the PKK/PYD to stage a joint advance on opposition-held parts of Idlib.

Afrin’s town of Rajo, meanwhile, which sits only 5 kilometers from the Turkish border, is home to a helicopter base used by Russia, the Assad regime and PYD/PKK terrorists.

Since the early days of the war in Aleppo, the Assad regime has reportedly dispatched numerous helicopters, weapons and ammunition to the area.

*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara

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