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Militants of the National Syrian Army (NSA), backed by the Turkish military, were able to reach and block the highway after capturing eighteen villages in the northern parts of al-Hasakah and Raqqa in the early morning.

“SDF regain control over the international road M4, after clashes with Turkey-backed armed group, who infiltrated the area and killed some civilians,” the SDF’s Coordination and Military Operations Center wrote on Twitter.

The M4 is considered the spine of transportation in northeastern Syria. The highway links al-Hasakah with Raqqa and Aleppo.

The SDF’s claims on reopening the M4 are yet to be confirmed by any independent source. The Kurdish group has not released any photos or videos from the highway, so far.

The Turkish military and the so-called National Syrian Army (NSA) resumed on October 12 their advance around Tell Abyad in northern Raqqa, capturing seven villages in the vicinity of the key border town.

Turkish forces imposed control of the villages of al-Dab’a, al-Dadat, Dhiyabah, Sarad, al-Jindaui and Sa’aiydah east of Tell Abyad as well as the village of al-Druliyah west of the town. The villages were captured following heavy clashes with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Early in the morning, Turkish forces launched a surprise attack on the administrative border between Raqqa and al-Hasakah, capturing eighteen villages and blocking the strategic M4 highway. The forces also imposed control of the border town of Ras al-Ayn, a main SDF stronghold.

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the SDF has lost 74 fighters since the beginning of Operation Peace Spring.

At total of 28 Syrian civilians, including seven children, have been killed by the Turkish military fire since the begging of Operation Peace Spring in northeast Syria three days ago, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on October 12.

Most of the civilians were killed in Turkish shelling and airstrikes that targeted the towns and cities of Tell Abyad, Ras al-Ayn and Qamishli.

The Turkish-led operation also displaced at least 100,000 civilians, mainly from the border with Turkey, according to the monitoring group.

“The number of displaced people exceeded 100,000 civilians … The displacement of civilians continues from their areas in Tell Abyad, Ras al-Ayn, Darbasiyah and other areas east of the Euphrates,” the SOHR’s report reads.