Russian presence in North and East Syria not easing Turkish pressures

TEL TAMR, Syria – On Tuesday, a fire broke out in agricultural crops in the vicinity of the Russian base in Al-Mabaqir, north of Tel Tamr. The fire brigades of Tel Tamr municipality intervened to extinguish the fires and prevent them from spreading to the Russian base. The Russian personnel of the base, however, stood by and offered no help to the fire brigades.

It is suspected that the Turkish-backed factions of the Syrian National Army (SNA) based in the villages of Qasimiyah and Al-Arisha set fire to crops in Dardara village. Fires have continuously broken out along the borders of the occupied region of North and East Syria, invade by the SNA and Turkish forces in October 2019. Given their near daily occurrence, it is likely the fires are being intentionally set.

Russian forces were stationed at Al-Mabaqir following the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the area in October 2019. It was the U.S. withdrawal, at the request of Turkey, that paved the way for the invasion of the region.

The Russian presence in North and East Syria has so far proven to be merely that: a presence. Although the advent of Russian-Turkish joint patrolling along the border has somewhat eased the intensity of the conflict between the Turkish-backed SNA and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), low-intensity fighting occurs regularly and Turkey continues to pressure the region through the cutting-off of water resources and the intentional setting of fires.

In related news, a Russian armored vehicle detonated a landmine near the border gate in the village of Marj Ismail east of Kobane, injuring a number of Russian soldiers. The number of casualties is not yet known. The explosion resulted in a crop fire that burned nearly 50 hectares of land.

According to North Press Agency sources, the Russian armored vehicle came to the border gate to coordinate with Turkish forces before a joint patrol in the area.