For the First Time Ever Russia Bombs Ex-Syrian Rebels in Turkish Service
Last year the two powers clashed when Turkey protected Syrian Al-Qaeda but this is the first time the Russians have targeted ex-rebels salaried by Turkey
Editor’s note: As Turkey is increasing its protection of Syrian al-Qaeda in Idlib, the Russian response has been to therefore also target the ex-rebels that Turkey has garrisoning Afrin that the Turkish military had taken over from the Syrian Kurds.
Until now the Russians had left the ex-rebels in Afrin that Turkey has a closer relationship with alone, but as Turkey gets even closer to the Idlib al-Qaeda the distinction between the two Turkish-protected factions starts to vane for Moscow.
At least 11 fighters from a pro-Turkish rebel group were killed Sunday in Russian air raids in northern Syria, a war monitor said Sunday.
The strikes hit a school used as a “military base” by the Al-Hamza Division outside the north Syria town of Afrin which has been under the control of Turkey and its Syrian rebel proxies since 2018, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“Eleven fighters were killed and another 13 were wounded in the Russian strikes,” said the monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria.
Breaking. #Russia is launching for first time ever airstrikes on #TSK-held area near Ras Al-Ain, targeting #SNA. It comes after #RuAF bombed a SNA HQ in Afrin this morning (20+ casualties) & reports a Russian chopper was targeted by ground fire. https://t.co/WPXE29R8tq pic.twitter.com/9sN4EWSex7
— QalaatM (@QalaatM) September 26, 2021
It said the death toll could climb further amid ongoing efforts to pull victims from the rubble.
Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman said such Russian raids are rare in this region of Syria, which has been controlled by Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies for three years.
According to SDF sources the TFSA have fired upon a Russian helicopter flying over the front lines at Tel Tamr, forcing it to turn away.
— Woofers (@N0tWoofers) September 26, 2021
A Russian raid outside Afrin last month targeted a position of Faylaq al-Sham, another Turkey-backed rebel group, he said.
A spokesperson for the National Army, a coalition of Turkey-backed rebel groups, called Sunday’s attack a “clear message from Russia” to Turkey, showing that there are no “red lines.”
The attacks come just days before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits Sochi to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on 29 September.
The two leaders are expected to discuss the ongoing violence in Syria.
Russian airstrike on the outskirts of “Ghassanyah” in the western “Shughur” countryside in rural #Idlib province.#Syria #Russia #Syrianarmy🇸🇾pease feel free to follow fo daily Syrian updates🇸🇾 pic.twitter.com/69TUcw6PI8
— Steele M (@SteeleSyAA) September 26, 2021
A Russian airstrike on Brad town in Afrin killed four fighters of al-Hamzah Division special forces and wounded 10 others. The remains of a tactical backpack similar in style to a one spotted with the group's fighters in a video released five months ago can be seen in the scene. pic.twitter.com/fXTapLXLsI
— Within Syria (@WithinSyriaBlog) September 26, 2021