On Wednesday, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formerly al-Nusra Front) continued its advance towards Afrin city in Aleppo’s northern countryside as infighting between Turkish-backed armed opposition factions, known as Syrian National Army (SNA), goes on.
Militants of the HTS reached the hills of the village of Kurzeleh, some 5 km southeast of Afrin city, after expelling SNA militants.
Afrin, a Kurdish city in the north of Aleppo, has been under the occupation of Turkey since March 2018 following a military operation called “Olive Branch,” which resulted in the displacement of about 300.000 people of the original inhabitants of the city and its countryside.
The HTS seems to exploit infighting among SNA factions to make progress. It had fought factions in the Jindires district, 20 km south of Afrin city, before advancing upon Afrin city.
A local source said a woman in her 30s lost her life during clashes between the Third Legion and al-Hamzat Division, Turkish-backed factions.
Amid mutual mortar and artillery shelling between HTS and the Third Legion on the axes of Jindires and Deir Balout on the one hand and between HTS and Liberation and Building Movement faction in Basouta village on another, three militants of Ahrar al-Sham and the Levant Front injured.
In addition, the HTS captured the Liberation and Building Movement militants on the Basouta front, southwest of Afrin. The HTS sent military vehicles and tanks toward Ghazawiya and Deir Balout as clashes went on, according to the source.
The clashes resulted in a wide-scale civilian displacement from al-Muhamamdiya and Atmeh camps towards Dana and Sarmada in Idlib countryside since the early hours of the day, fleeing fireworks.
Trade movement between Afrin and Idlib was brought to a halt due to clashes. Crossings were closed down in the vicinity of Deir Balout leading towards Jindires and Ghazawiya trade axes.
The clashes caused a power outage in the city of Jindires and its countryside as a distribution transformer was blown up and high-frequency cables cut.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.