It seems that the time of ‘the Self-Rule Administration’, which the PYD imposed in Afrin, is about to end after the signs of the deal between Turkey and Russia have began to appear. At the same time when Turkey’s Erdogan was gearing up for an offensive on Afrin in order to obliterate the presence of the YPG in the region, Russia was also releasing statement confirming the withdrawal of its forces from some areas in the vicinity of Afrin that are adjacent to Euphrates Shield-held villages. Furthermore, on the same day when Turkey announced the Afrin operation under the banner ‘Branches of Olive’, Assad’s forces released a statement in which they claimed the capture of Abu Duhur airbase and more than 300 villages and town in north Hamah, east of Idlib and south of Aleppo. The timing of the tow operations and the halting of the military operations against advancing Assad’s forces towards Abu Dhour clarifies that the Afrin operation is a modification of the deals between Turkey and Russia, which include the exchange of areas of control. This is manifested in the withdrawal of Russian forces from many areas in Afrin before the launching of the Afrin Operation. Turkey also stated that it had informed the Assad regime before the beginning of the operation, which Assad denied.
On the ground, Turkey continues its airstrikes and artillery shelling against the northern and eastern parts of Afrin, and it is backed by a number of factions belonging to the Euphrates Shield who have so far succeeded in taking control over several villages, including Kurni village in the Bulbul area north of Afrin and the village of Shinkal in the Raju region. Concerning the frontlines in Azaz, both parties, YPG and Euphrates Shield are exchanging artillery fire and mortar attacks.
Today, the city of Afrin was not targeted by any strikes, according to a source of Aleppo24. However, three civilians, including a child, were killed in an artillery shelling by the Turkish army, who also carried out a massacre in the village of Akanbah in the countryside of Afrin that claimed the lives of seven civilians, all of whom were displaced people. Furthermore, two civilians were killed in an artillery fire by the Turkish army on the Raju region. In the same context, two civilians were killed by a shelling of the YPG on the town of Kel Jabrin. Mutual artillery and mortar fire have extended to the Turkish cities of Rayhaniya and Kilis. Three civilians were killed in Rayhaniyah and one other was wounded in Kilis.
On the military level, 29 YPG and 9 YPJ fighters were killed yesterday by the Turkish army in the countryside of Afrin following the targeting of their checkpoints by artillery fire. A British volunteer in the ranks of YPJ was killed in the ongoing battles in Afrin, and her body was transported to Manbej in order to be sent to Britain.