PHOTO: Aftermath of Russian strike on building with Turkish soldiers in northwest Syria on Thursday
- Kurds Hand Over Villages in North to Assad Regime
- Video: Demonstration in Douma Defies Regime Attacks
UPDATE 1830 GMT: Pro-Assad forces claim they are continuing their advance south of al-Bab.
The forces said that they have taken Abu Taltal and are now on the doorstep of the key positon of Tadef.
UPDATE 1515 GMT: First claimed footage of Free Syrian Army rebels inside the town limits of al-Bab:
— Ahmad Alkhatib (@AhmadAlkhtiib) February 10, 2017
The Turkish-rebel offensive claims that it has taken the al-Hakma hospital and Zamzam Avenue.
Russian airstrikes killed three Turkish soldiers and wounded 11 on Thursday, amid the closing frontlines between a Turkish-rebel offensive and pro-Assad forces near the ISIS-held town of al-Bab in Aleppo Province in northwest Syria.
The Turkish military said in a statement, “During an operation by a Russia Federation warplane against Islamic State targets in the region of the Euphrates Shield operation in Syria, a bomb accidentally hit a building used by Turkish Army units.”
The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin called Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to express condolences, blaming the attacks on poor coordination between the Russian and Turkish militaries.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş reiterated on Friday, “We are trying to clarify the incident. Initial findings show wrongful coordination was carried out unfortunately. It was an unintentional incident.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said today, in a conference call with reporters:
Unfortunately, our military, while carrying out strikes on terrorists, were guided by coordinates given to them by our Turkish partners. Turkish servicemen should not have been present in those coordinates.
However, pro-opposition activists noted that the strikes as Free Syrian units, in the Turkish-rebel offensive, and nearby pro-Assad troops clashed for the first time. The fighting was reportedly near the village of al-Ghuz.
Local sources said that the Turkish air force was also involved and that Iranian-led militias are among the pro-Assad forces.
The Turkish-rebel offensive, which claimed a breakthrough on the southeast outskirts of al-Bab on Wednesday, claimed a further advance yesterday. A rebel commander said FSA fighters, working with Turkish officers, were moving from the western gates of al-Bab.
The Turkish-rebel assault had struggled to establish gains since it began in early December. In recent weeks, a pro-Assad offensive from the south has reached a line six km (3.5 miles) from al-Bab, which is northeast of regime-occupied Aleppo city and about 30 km (20 miles) from the Turkish border.
Kurds Hand Over Villages in North to Assad Regime
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia has reportedly handed over territory in northern Syria, taken from rebels in February 2016, to the Assad regime.
A ceremony marked the transfer of Tal Rifaat and nearby villages to the authority of Damascus.
However, pro-Kurdish outlets denied any agreement, and later reports indicate that the regime may have dealt with the Jaish al-Thuwar faction, which once fought with rebels but is now allied with the YPG.
Jaish al-Thuwar subsequently denied any arrangement with the regime.
The opposition has accused the PYD/YPG of colluding with the Assad regime as rebels have been pushed back, including the loss of Aleppo city, over the past year.
Video: Demonstration in Douma Defies Regime Attacks
Friday’s rally in Douma, northeast of Damascus, with demonstrators expressing defiance of a pro-Assad offensive that has advanced through the East Ghouta region and bombarded the town since last spring:
— Firas Abdullah (@firasabdullah_) February 10, 2017
The regime has taken much of the East Ghouta area, moving within shelling range of Douma. However, it has struggled to advance in recent weeks, with rebels claiming that they have inflicted heavy casualties upon the attackers.