Ankara has ordered the so-called Syrian National Army (SNA) to hand over a number of villages near the town of Tell Abyad in northern Raqqa to the Russian Military Police, Sputnik reported on October 30, citing sources from the Turkish-backed group.
“The Turkish military ordered, today Wednesday, Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions to withdraw from 11 villages, located on the M4 highway in the district of Ain Issa in the area of Tell Abyad, and to hand it over to the Russian Military Police,” the source told the Russian news agency.
According to the source, Ankara told the Syrian militants that these villages are not a part of the “safe-zone” agreed upon by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, last week.
The Russian-Turkish agreement allow Ankara to establish a safe-zone between the border towns of Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ain north of the M4 highway.
The M4 is considered the spine of transportation in northeastern Syria. The highway links al-Hasakah with Raqqa and Aleppo.
It’s still unclear if SNA militants have handed over the villages to Russian forces. In the last 48 hours, the militants captured 18 Syrian service members and launched a large attack south of Ras al-Ain, violating the agreement with Russia.
In the afternoon of October 30, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) withdrew from some of its newly-established positions in the northern al-Hasakah countryside, according to the Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA).
Pro-government activists claimed that the forces withdraw due to problems related to their supply line and equipment. Some units of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) withdrew from the same areas.