Russian – Iranian disagreements about handing over Tal Rifaat to Turkey in return for the Syrian opposition factions’ withdrawal from important fronts west Syria
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights obtained information about disagreements between the forces allied with the regime about a new agreement in the northern countryside of Aleppo and west Syria, and in the details confirmed by reliable sources of the Syrian Observatory: disagreements are taking place between Russian Forces and Iranian Forces about Tal Rifaat area and the areas around it in the northern countryside of Aleppo, which were taken from the rebel and Islamic factions in early 2016, the disagreement took place after a Russian offer to hand over Tal Rifaat area and its surroundings to the Turkish forces; in exchange for the withdrawal of the rebel and Islamic factions from the triangle of west Jesr al-Shughur – Sahl al-Ghab – the northeastern countryside of Latakia, where this agreement provoked the Iranian side after its previous refusal in March 2018 the entry of the Turkish forces and opposition factions to Tal Rifaat area, which was accompanied by an Iranian escalation and threat if the Turkish Forces and Syrian opposition factions stormed Tal Rifaat area, after controlling Afrin area by Operation “Olive branch”, while the talks are still underway between the Russians and Iranians to reach a consensus about this new deal.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published on the 27th of March 2018 that there is no truth about the entry of the Turkish forces to Tal Rifaat, located in the northern countryside of Aleppo, where the advancement of the Turkish forces and their allied Syrian opposition factions, stopped at the outskirts of the city, as the Syria Democratic Forces and the gunmen loyal to the regime located in the city, refused to withdraw from it, although the Russian forces handed the city over to the Turkish forces, and reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that the SDF and the gunmen loyal to the regime refused to withdraw as a result of the presence of tens of thousands of people displaced from Afrin who are still in the city and its outskirts, after the Russian forces located in Tal Rifaat, in the northern countryside of Aleppo, started to hand over the town, which the Russian forces had withdrawn to before the start of Operation “Olive Branch” on the 20th of January 2018.
Back then the Turkish forces and their allied factions operating within Operation “Olive Branch”, where the Turkish forces entered the town which the Syria Democratic Forces whose main pillar is the YPG, controlled in early 2016, while this handover which is taking place in the wake of a Russian – Turkish agreement, came to escalate the fears for the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrian citizens who displaced from Afrin area, as a result of the Turkish attack, and hundreds of whom were prevented to return to Afrin area during the past few days, where the deployed checkpoints of the forces of the “Olive Branch” Operation have not let them return their villages, in addition to being prevented by the regime forces.
It is noteworthy that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published on the 26th of March 2018 that a meeting took place in the northern countryside of Aleppo between the Turks and the Russians, and the sources informed the Syrian Observatory that this meeting led to an agreement providing for the handover of Tal Rifaat and surrounding villages that are currently under the control of YPG, to fighters of the Syrian the rebel and Islamic factions loyal to the Turkish Forces within “Olive Branch” Operation, this agreement comes even though there are more than 50000 people in Tal Rifaat town of who have been displaced from Afrin area, and they face an unknown fate after this agreement.