Russia withdraws troops from Afrin amid Turkey’s preparations for military operation

Russia’s forces positioned in Afrin, where Turkey made extensive preparations to launch a military operation, are leaving the region. It is reported that the Russian army started to quit Afrin and its surrounding villages occupied by PKK/PYD 15 days ago, and withdrew its last troops yesterday with a great change of station.Russia, withdrawing its troops yesterday from Khybar camp in Kafr Jina, positioned in Nubl, a Shi’ite town in Syria. According to sources in the region, nearly 200 Russian soldiers of three special units left Afrin, but from 20 to 50 intelligence officers are kept in the region. These agents operated in the Kitne Village, but they waited ‘ready to withdraw’, said sources.

Final preparations for Turkey’s Afrin operation

The Turkish Armed Forces’ operation plans aimed at Afrin have been sped up with the increase in Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) harassing against regions rescued from the terrorist organization Daesh within the scope of Euphrates Shield Operation. The recent intense participation of the PKK in the region led Turkey to consider this region as a national security threat. As the military intensity at the border peaks, the preparations at Turkish Armed Forces’ bases in Syria are at their final phase.

The Afrin plan, which the Turkish Armed Forces is working on, is being finalized. The operation which is designed to be carried out with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups will start from Azaz, Kaljibrin and Mare, and proceed eastwards in the regions occupied by the terrorist organization PKK/PYD. Turkish soldiers and the FSA will primarily seize control of Tell Rifaat and Menagh Military Airbase in the first phase of the operation. Severe clashes are expected around these two targets, located in a quite strategic point in terms of the region. The Menagh Airbase, which is 7 km away from Azaz, and 15 km away from Afrin, was occupied by the PKK in February.