The predominately Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) – backed by Jaysh Al-Thuwwar of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – have reached the northeastern flank of Tal Rifa’at after a violent battle with the Islamist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group), Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Jabhat Al-Shamiyah, and the Free Syrian Army in northern Aleppo.
Prior to their advance to Tal Rifa’at, the YPG and SDF imposed full control over the small village of ‘Ayn Daqnah, resulting in the latter successfully cutting off the Islamist rebels along Tal Rifa’at-‘Azaz Road.
In addition to cutting off Tal Rifa’at-‘Azaz Road, the YPG and SDF confiscated a large cache of weapons, while also taking several enemy combatants from Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, the Free Syrian Army, and Jabhat Al-Shamiyah prisoner.
Following the capture of ‘Ayn Daqnah, the YPG and SDF began their powerful attack on the rebel stronghold of Tal Rifa’at, seizing several sites situated to the east of this large town in Aleppo Governorate’s northern countryside.
Despite several reports of the YPG and SDF entering Tal Rifa’at, the social media accounts belonging to the Islamist rebels fighting at the town have denied these claims, stating that Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Jabhat Al-Shamiyah and et al. are still in full control of it.
If the Islamist rebels lose Tal Rifa’at, they will be on the verge of losing their final stronghold inside northern Aleppo: ‘Azaz.
For the YPG, the eventual capture of ‘Azaz would allow them to be one border-crossing away from linking their lands in the east to the territory they control in the west.
Of course, watching from afar is the Turkish Army, who did not hesitate to strike the YPG and SDF near Tal Rifa’at on Sunday; however, this aggression was not enough to forestall the Kurdish advance.