BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:03 P.M.) – Amid what appears to be a new phase of Ankara’s still ongoing Olive Branch operation, the Turkish Army and Free Syrian Army militias under its command have snatched three more villages from Kurdish forces in Syria’s Afrin region.
On Friday morning, Turkey-led forces renewed their assault towards the Kurdish-held fortress town of Raju in northwest Afrin, taking control of Maskanli, Utmanli and the duel-settlement of Mamali.
The new push has brought Olive Branch forces to within about one or two kilometers of Raju via the northwestern direction.
The advance to Raju’s gates by Ankara-backed rebel groups comes amid reports that the Turkish Army has deployed elite troops near the Kurdish stronghold.
The elite Turkish Army soldiers in question are specialist light infantry – reportedly equipped for and training in the storming of urban areas.
If the reports are true, there can be almost no doubt that Turkish troops plan to storm and capture the stronghold of Raju from Kurdish fighters.