Turkey withdraws soldiers from Tal Tamr, establishes new observation point in Idlib as fighting escalates

TAL TAMR – Plumes of smoke were reported over the skies of Tal Tamr yesterday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) stated that the Turkish forces withdrew from their positions along the Tal Tamr frontline. Before withdrawing, the Turkish forces set fire to their headquarters and there was no information on the reasons for the withdrawal.

The Turkish forces transported weapons and heavy equipment, such as artillery and tanks from the villages of Al-Manajir and Al-Shibliya in the northern Tal Tamr countryside, towards the city of Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn).

The Syrian National Army (SNA), a collection of militias, including several espousing Islamist ideologies, formed and funded by Turkey, remain at their positions.

SOHR noted that tension prevails between the Turkish forces and the SNA since the ineffectiveness of Turkey’s “defense” of Idlib. The Syrian Arad Army (SAA) has captured large swathes of Idlib government in the last three weeks, leaving Turkish observation points fully surrounded and dependent on Syrian and Russian approval for the delivery of supplies.

According to SOHR, Turkish forces withdrew from their positions in the villages of Hilweh, Jamus, Arisha, Mahmoudiya, Al-Souda, Al-Saeed, and Khirbet Jammu located along the ​​Tal Tamr–Abu Rasayn frontline last week.

In Idlib, however, Turkish forces have established yet another observation point at the summit of Prophet Ayoub in Idlib which overlooks the Jabal Zawiya, Sahl al-Ghab. A convoy of 40 military armored vehicles and trucks loaded with heavy weapons moved towards the summit of Prophet Ayoub and parts of the international Aleppo-Latakia road.

Turkish forces have also established a military point near the town of Basnqul, located on the M4 highway.

There are now 38 Turkish observation points in the de-escalation area.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened “imminent” military attack in Idlib, during a speech in Ankara. He once again called on the SAA to withdraw from some locations in Idlib by the end of this month, saying, “This is our last warning. Launching a military operation in Idlib is imminent.”

In the afternoon on Thursday, a coordinated counter-offensive was launched by the National Front of Liberation (NFL) and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is an Al-Qaeda affiliate, to take the city Nayrab. Both groups appear to be equipped with Turkish armored vehicles and artillery.