BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:13 P.M.) – The Turkish Army and allied Free Syrian Army-linked militias have scored a worthy advance against Kurdish forces in Syria’s Afrin region after a two-day back and forth battle for a key mountain and its nearby villages.
According to rebel sources, Free Syrian Army fighters – backed up by fire support and armor from Turkish forces – have seized the mountainous area of Sheikh Kharuz and the villages of Kharuz Fouqani, Kharuz Wastani and Kharuz Tahtani which surround it in northern Afrin.
The advance was made after a 48-hour swinging battle for the area during which time pro-Ankara forces endured inconveniently high losses in manpower and equipment and even claimed a fake chemical attack by Kurdish artillery on their positions (typical of Free Syrian Army factions when important battles do not go as expected).
On Tuesday, Kurdish forces launched a counter-attack to completely push pro-Turkey militias off the mountain, not only succeeding in doing this but also killing about a dozen Islamist fighters and capturing two armored vehicles in the process.
However, the last several hours has nonetheless witnessed Kurdish fighters pull-back from their positions on Sheikh Kharuz and hand over control of it and its nearby settlements to Turkey-led forces.