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The Turkish-backed National Syrian Army (NSA) has blocked the strategic M4 highway in northeast Syria, once again.

According to sources affiliated with the NSA, the group’s militants managed to reach the highway in the early hours of October 13 and established positions on it, effectively blocking traffic.

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria confirmed that the highway was blocked, calling on civilians to stay away from it. The administration is the executive branch of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The M4 is considered the spine of transportation in northeast Syria. The highway links al-Haskah, Raqqa and Aleppo.

NSA reached the highway a day earlier after capturing eighteen villages along the administrative border between al-Hasakah and Raqqa. While blocking the highway, the militants arrested and executed a number of civilians, including Secretary General of the Future Syria Party, Hevrin Khalaf.

The SDF was able to reopen the M4 on October 12. However, it appears that this time the NSA militants were able to establish fortified positions on the highway.