On February 21, the Russian Military Police withdrew from their base in the town of Ain Issa in the northern Raqqa countryside, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
The London-based monitoring group claimed that Russian troops withdrew to the town of Tell Samn, south of Ain Issa. Russian flags were lowered at the base, where several liaison officers from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are still present.
Earlier, Turkish forces shelled the vicinity of Ain Issa in a new escalation. A bulldozer of the SDF was also destroyed by Turkish-backed militants.
The Russian withdrawal from Ain Issa is yet to be confirmed. Several units from the Syrian Arab Army are still deployed in their positions around the town.
The SOHR claimed earlier that Russian forces withdrew from one of their positions near the SDF-held town of Tell Tamr in northern al-Hasakah. However, the monitoring group admitted that the “withdrawal” was a mere maneuver meant to pressure the SDF.
The situation around Ain Issa is far from being stable. Turkish forces have been shelling the town and its surroundings for several months now.
Last year, Russia warned the SDF from a near Turkish-led attack on Ain Issa and asked the Kurdish-led group to hand over the town to the Damascus government. However, the group rejected.
The alleged Russian withdrawal from Ain Issa may be meant to pressure the SDF, which is not cooperating with Syrian government forces as it should.
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