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Turkey and Free Syrian Army start military operation in Afrin, Aleepo, and loyalist forces escalate attacks on Abu al-Duhur airport, Idlib

Editing: Mohamad Alaa |
TranslationEditor: Vera Halvorsen |
Translation: Nouha Salti

Local and Field news:

On Sunday, the Free Syrian Army and the Turkish army started a military ground attack during the Olive Branch operation in Afrin, 42 km north of Aleppo, Northern Syria.

A source told SMART that about 1,000 fighters of the FSA and the Turkish infantry army have started the attack on Rajo's surrounding villages, Northwestern Afrin, under the cover of Turkish warplanes.

The FSA fighters, who participated in the Afrin operation, were prepared in Turkey and they advanced towards Afrin from the Turkish military bases. The Syrian Democratic Forces said that they blocked attacks by the Turkish army, causing causalities among them, according to the SDF.

The Turkish Chief of Staff announced the start of a military operation in Afrin, Northern Aleppo, Northern Syria, against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG); the operation is named the Olive Branch Operation, amidst raids by Turkish warplanes, which killed civilians.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the remobilization of Russian soldiers from the Afrin perimeter in Northern Aleppo to Tal Rafaat, 20 km to the east, in order to protect them as the Turkish military operation against the YPG started in the area.

On Saturday night, the city of Killes, Northern Turkey, was bombed by artillery shells from the YPG's bases in Efrin.

Activists from Killes told SMART that several artillery shells bombed the city's Ahmad Rasim district, causing partial destruction of a house and material damage in a branch of the 101 shopping center.

The Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım, said that the operation aims to stop the attacks of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) against the Euphrates Shield area and the Turkish territories, and to end the PKK's injustice in the area.

On Sunday, the Turkish Internet service disconnected in the Syrian Northern provinces, coinciding with the Turkish military operation in Afrin.

In Idlib, Russian and loyalist warplanes raided the Abu al-Duhur military airport, Eastern Idlib, and several towns and villages in the province intensively. The raids coincided with the loyalist forces' attempts to control the airport.

Local activists told SMART that suspected Russian warplanes raided Jerjenaz, Saraqib, Jisr al-Shughur and Tal Mardikh, causing the destruction of residential buildings and forcing many people to flee from Jerjenaz.

In Southern Syria, 11 civilians, including a Civil Defense volunteer, were killed and others were injured after an artillery bombing by the loyalist forces targeting two villages and a town in Eastern Ghouta, Damascus.

Local activists told SMART that nine civilians were killed after an artillery bombing from the nearby loyalist forces' bases targeted the public markets and residential districts in Duma, 14 km east of Damascus. The bombing killed a Civil Defense volunteer and injured another, as the bombing targeted their vehicle while transporting injured people.

In Quneitra, the Martyr Captain Abu Hamza Al Nuaimi Gathering of the FSA, which operates in Quneitra, said that they are ready to deliver any of the gathering's leaders to be prosecuted only in case their breaches were confirmed. Earlier, three of the gathering's leaders escaped from the Court of Justice in Horan.

The Court of Justice in Horan transported the three leaders to the Nasib hospital after they were arrested and tortured by a third party, whose identity the court's president, Ismat Al Absi, refused to reveal for security and civil peace reasons. The third party arrested the leaders under accusations of kidnapping and blowing up an FSA headquarters. Two days later, the leaders escaped from the Nasib hospital to the Ghadir Al Bustan village, Eastern Quneitra.

On Saturday, a security disturbance occurred between the two factions of Jaish Al Thawra and Shabab Al Sunna forces of the FSA in Kharaba, 32 km east of Daraa,  after a fighter of the Jaish Al Thawra was killed by the Shabab Al Sunna Forces.

Activists told SMART that the fighter was killed near a checkpoint of the Shabab Al Sunna Forces in Busra Al Sham. The accident was followed by a clash between the two factions, using medium caliber weapons and heavy machine guns in the nearby village of Kharaba.

In Central Syria, two civilians, including a child, were injured after a suspected Russian bombing on Murek, 27 km north of Hama. The Revolutionary Movement in Al Rastan, 23 km north of Homs, organized a protest to denounce the Syrian National Dialogue Congress's conference, which will be held on 29 and 30 January in Sochi, Russia.

In Northeastern Syria, The Syrian Democratic Forces graduated the second class of the border guard forces' course in Al Hasaka in the presence of a delegation of the International Coalition, which supervised their training. This course included 250 fighters of the border guard forces, who will operate in Ain Al Arab (Kobani), Northern Aleppo. The fighters were trained to use medium and heavy caliber weapons and attended political lectures for 20 days.

In Raqqa, the Raqqa Civil Council of the Kurdish Autonomous Administration distributed about ten million liters of diesel fuel at 70 Syrian pounds per liter in the city's districts and in 500 villages in Raqqa, Northeastern Syria.