BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:30 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is nearly in full control of the strategic Aleppo-Hasakah Highway that stretches across northern Syria.
According to a military report from northern Syria, the Syrian Army troops are positioned across every major point on the highway, except for the area near Raqqa city and Al-Malikiyah.
The Syria troops are stationed on the 60 km strip along the highway reaching as far as administrative borders of the Raqqa Province.
However, the Syrian Arab Army is expected to take control of Al-Malikiyah in the coming days, which will mean they will control a new Iraqi border crossing.
Furthermore, the future control of Raqqa city is up in the air, but many in Damascus believe the U.S. Armed Forces will eventually withdraw from this area, as they concentrate their troops towards the Iraqi border.
On October 9, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria, code-naming it Operation Peace Spring, with the Turkish Armed Forces and the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army carrying it out. Erdogan’s military campaign kicked off with airstrikes on the positions of the previously US-backed Kurdish units.
The Erdogan government claimed that its goal is to clear the border area of what it calls ‘terrorists’ (Turkey’s broad label of the Kurdish forces) and establish a 30 km-long buffer zone in Syria’s north, where over 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey would resettle. Ankara’s incursion into Syria has triggered an outcry in the region and across the world. The Syrian SANA news agency branded the operation as an act of aggression, while the international community condemned Erdogan’s military operation.
On October 13, SANA reported that Damascus had struck a deal with Kurds and sent troops to north Syria to oppose the Turkish army. In the next few days, the Syrian army took control over a number of cities and towns in Kurdish regions without any fighting, including Al-Tabqah, Manbij, Raqqa and Kobane. On October 17, Syrian army units reached the Turkish border.