Turkish, Russian commanders control line between FSA and Syrian regime in al-Bab: Sources
Uğur Ergan – ANKARAControl of an emptied road that separates the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) from the forces of the Syrian regime in the south of Syria’s al-Bab has been given to Turkish and Russian commanders on either side, with the aim of avoiding any confrontation, sources told daily Hürriyet.
Sources speaking on condition of anonymity said that the road between Turkey-backed FSA rebels and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been formed after the former forces started advancing to the south after encircling al-Bab from the north, east and west, and the latter trying to move to the northern more parts of the city from the south.
The emptied road - between rival forces that are both fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in al-Bab - is comprised of between eight to 10 kilometers linking the town of Manij to Aleppo, sources stated.
While the line emptied of soldiers is as narrow as 200 meters in some places, it widens to as much as one kilometer in others.
FSA members to the north of the line are led by a Turkish commander, while Syrian regime forces to the south of the road are led by a Russian commander, sources said.
With a deal reached between Turkey and Russia, a cease-fire across Syria has mostly held since Dec. 30, 2016. Ankara and Moscow, which support opposite sides in the six-year-old war, say they are trying to turn the cease-fire into a permanent truce and launch credible peace negotiations.
Turkey backs FSA rebels as part of its ongoing Euphrates Shield operation that it launched in August last year in order to clear its border of terrorists.
A total of 28 ISIL militants were “neutralized” over the weekend as part of the Euphrates Shield operation, the Turkish military stated.
Authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply that the militant in question surrendered, was killed or was captured.
While 16 ISIL militants were neutralized in northern Syria on Feb. 18, another 12 were neutralized on Feb. 19, the military said in two separate statements.
The U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition forces also killed a total of nine ISIL militants in air strikes on the mentioned days, the statements said.