Flags of power states flutter in Syria’s Tel Rifaat, Turkey continues shelling

Aleppo (North Press) – Flags of a number of power states flutter over the town of Tel Rifaat, 30 km from the city of Aleppo, northern Syria. Nonetheless the town undergoes repeated shelling after it became a target of the Turkish military incursion in northern Syria nearly nine months ago.  

Jibrail Mustafa, Co-chair of the Afrin Lawyers Union told North Press that although Russian, Iranian and Syrian forces are positioned at frontlines in northern Aleppo, Turkey perpetrates what are outlawed “legally” crimes, politically speaking.

The three powers – Russia, Iran and Syria – positioned in the town do not show clear stance though there are more than 150.000 families living in the town and its surrounding, added to the original inhabitants already living there that are open to threats, according to Mustafa.  

In 2019 Turkey committed a massacre in Tel Rifaat which claimed the lives of 11 people mostly children. That was not the sole of its kind, however.  

Mustafa attributes the position of the power states that do not take a clear stance towards such breaches for the area is called “de-escalation zone” the term which was coined in 2017 in the statement of Astana Peace Talks.  

The statement issued then stipulated guarantor states deploy troops to commit warring parties to “de-escalation zone” in those areas.

While Bashar al-Jaafari head of the Syrian government delegation to Astana talks at the time considered “any US, Turkish, British or French military presence or any military forces coming from Jupiter or Saturn are illegitimate forces according to the international law.”  

Interrelated Interests

Mustafa added: “We see that the civilians in these areas do not live in real stability because the above-mentioned term emerged to serve interests of Russia, Iran and Turkey only.”  

Mustafa added that Iran wants to put into action the “Shiite Crescent,” in an indication to what is being circulated by media outlets and politicians that the project “gives Iran mass influence extending from Afghan borders up to the Mediterranean.”  

On July 14, Iranian forces set up berms in the village of Ibbin and fluttered three flags in the village which is nearly 9 km from the two Shiite towns of Nubl and Zahraa.

At the time, Abu Zainab, 36, a leader in the Popular Defense Forces (NDF), a military formation affiliated with Syrian government forces, in Nubl and Zahraa told North Press that alert and increase in military presence was active in frontlines in the east of Aleppo adjacent to areas held by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formerly al-Nusra Front) and in the north of Aleppo adjacent to areas held by Turkish forces and the opposition factions.

Regarding the position of Russian forces that back the Syrian government, Mustafa said it uses Turkey as a pressing card against the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) to gain concessions in an attempt to return to the 2011 status in Syria, in an indication to the presence of Russian forces positioned at the outskirts of the town.

On July 28 bulldozers of the Syrian government forces set up berms in the outskirts of a number of villages in the east of Tel Rifaat in addition to already existing two posts of the Syrian forces in the town and a presence in the Mennegh Military Airport. 

The Adana Agreement “is still active between the Syrian and Turkish governments,” according to Mustafa.

The Adana Agreement was concluded between Syria and Turkey on October 20, 1998 in the Turkish city of Adana and included the following points: Syria would not permit any activity which was deemed as “jeopardizing the security and stability” of Turkey.” 

Under the Adana agreement, Turkey has the right to enter up to 5km (3 miles) inside the border with Syria – but it cannot remain for long.

All this serves the Turkish position where these countries seek to interfere in the “Syrian issue by any means,” and turn Syrians into “mercenaries,” according to Mustafa.

Well-informed sources told North Press that the continuation of Turkish attacks on the town and its villages led to the displacement of nearly 40 families.  

This is the current situation of the affair in the region amid reports of reconciliation between Syria and Turkey mediated by Russia and the Turkish calls for the Syrian opposition on the necessity of reconciliation with Damascus.

Reporting Jamil Jaafar