Opposition units linked to the Free Syrian Army arrive near al-Bab. Photo: AA
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The town of Tedef in the countryside south of al-Bab was controlled by Syrian regime forces and militias loyal to them including foreigners, as clashes between the loyalists and Turkish-backed rebels, a human rights observatory reported. Additionally, the deaths of 22 Syrian troops were reported by media.
"Clashes are taking place between factions of the 'Euphrates Shield' and Turkish forces against the regime forces and militiamen loyal to them of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities in Krizat and near the town of Tedef which was controlled by the regime forces today and in the southern countryside of al-Bab city..." the UK-basked Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
Turkish media also on Monday reported on the clashes, claiming that a number of Syrian troops were killed in Tadif.
"At least 22 Syrian troops were killed in a clash with Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces in Tadif town near the city of al-Bab, opposition fighters said late Sunday," Anadolu Agency reported, citing reports on social media by Hawar Kilis Operation Room.
Hawar Kilis Operations Room and its more recent affiliate the Bloc of Victory Operations Room are coalitions comprised of rebel groups affiliated with the FSA, John Artebury, a security analyst who studies at Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies has written.
Syrian government aligned forces have been carrying out operations south of al-Bab since mid-January, while the Turkish-backed FSA fighters have pushed from the north, a part of Turkey's Euphrates Shield Operation that began in August 2016.
Two weeks ago it was reported by multiple sources that Russia stepped in to stop fighting between Syrian-backed government forces and Turkish-backed opposition forces near al-Bab as both sides converged on the ISIS-held city of al-Bab.
“The control [of Tedef town] came after the regime forces led by Tiger groups led by the Brigadier-General in the regime forces Sohail Hassan were able to control the village of Bira al-Bab and its vicinity amid an intense bombardment by the regime forces on the clash areas and on the organization’s locations and controlled areas,” the human rights organization wrote in early February.
The main road south from al-Bab passes through Tedef before intersecting with the Aleppo-Manbij highway.
“The next step in the operation is to clear Manbij [east of Al-Bab] of terrorists,” Anadolu Agency quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying to reporters on Friday.