An FSA field commander to the RFS: Taking control of the villages east of Al-Bab is an important step that enhances our leverage in the countryside of Aleppo

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The FSA factions participating in the Euphrates Shield battle took control of the villages of Um Shakif, Fekha Kiberah, Fekha Sgherah, Jub Na’san, Zamar, Sukaryeh Kiberah, Sukaryeh Sgherah, and other areas east of Al-Bab city after clashes with ISIL on Monday evening.

In an exclusive interview with RFS, Abu Huzaifah, the commander of Al-Mustafa Regiment that is participating in the Euphrates Shield operation, considered that taking control of those villages is not less important than taking control of Al-Bab city.

Abu Huzaifah clarified that by forcing ISIL to withdraw from these villages after heavy fighting, the FSA factions participating in the Euphrates Shield Operation has expanded the FSA-controlled areas in Aleppo eastern countryside.

He pointed that by achieving this progress, the FSA cut off the way in front of the progress of the Assad regime forces and the Kurdish PYD militias preventing them from stationing in these areas.

Abu Huzaifa indicated that they have not encountered many landmines in the villages of Um Shakif, Fekha Kiberah, Fekha Sgherah, Jub Na’san, Zamar, Sukaryeh Kiberah, and Sukaryeh Sgherah. He attributed the reason to the collapse and dispersal within ISIL after withdrawing from Al-Bab city the thing which prevented it from organizing its ranks and planting landmines in those villages, unlike the case in Al-Bab city where the FSA is challenged by many camouflaged landmines.

He added that there were low numbers of ISIL fighters in those villages who fled towards Maskanah city upon the increase in the pace of clashes with FSA fighters.
The field commander pointed out that the FSA evacuated the residents from the fighting areas in these villages securing them by searching the houses for landmines and tunnels which are used sometimes by ISIL fighters after their withdrawal to attack the FSA.

A Turkish Support

About the support provided by the Turkish Army in the operation of taking control of the villages of Um Shakif, Fekha Kiberah, Fekha Sgherah, Jub Na’san, Zamar, Sukaryeh Kiberah, and Sukaryeh Sgherah, , the commander of Al-Mustafa Regiment said to RFS,” the participation of Turkish artillery in the operation was significant.” The FSA factions initiated the operation preparing for the artillery shelling to reach the first ISIL locations and took their control killing five ISIL members, destroying a car bomb, and seizing weapons.

In this context, he said: “the Turkish forces spread in several parts of Al-Bab city and its outskirts, Qibasin, Baza’ah, and several other villages liberated by the FSA,” explaining that the Turkish troops spread in those important locations to monitor the movement of any enemy, whether it was ISIL or the PYD militia.

Taking control of Tadif

About taking control of Tadif by the regime forces two days ago, Abu Huzaifa clarified that the morale of ISIL fighters collapsed after losing Al-Bab city causing the fall of more than 20 villages automatically in the hands of the FSA, regime forces, or PYD militia. He pointed out that this confusion helped the regime forces in taking control of Tadif which is located nearby Al-Bab city.

He continued adding, “The acceleration of events on the ground, the FSA progress, the liberation locations from ISIL, in addition to the regime progress in Tedef, led to the outbreak of clashes between the FSA and regime forces killing more than 20 regime fighters. These clashes were the second of its kind between us and the fighters of the Assad regime since launching the Euphrates Shield operation in August. Earlier, clashes took place with them in Abu Al-Zindin and Al-Ghouz villages in which we damaged a BMP vehicle and seized one another on the 9th of February. This came before containing the situation of the ground by Turkey and Russia in the context of their understandings on Syria.
In this context, the commander of Al-Mustafa Regiment confirmed that Turkey did not participate in the FSA battles against the regime fighters in the surroundings of Tadif. He revealed to RFS that Tadif will remain under the regime control for the time being as the next destination is going to be Al-Raqqa, with the support of the Turkish Army, in order to eliminate ISIL then to fight against the regime and the PYD in the next phase.

It is noteworthy that last Thursday, the FSA was able, after heavy battles with ISIL, to liberate Al-Bab city which is considered to be the most important location for ISIL in Aleppo eastern countryside.

Taim Al-Haj
Special report for the Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office

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