Fighters of the Free Syrian Army, allies of the Turkish Armed Forces, opened fire on Sunday against a convoy of US troops heading to Iraq, Major General Yuri Borenkov, chief of the Russian center for reconciliation of conflicting sides in Syria, told reporters at a briefing.
“It was reported via the de-conflicting line with the US side that on November 3 a convoy of US service members moving along Road M4 towards the Iraqi border came under shelling some six kilometers west of Tell Tamer from the area controlled by pro-Turkish fighters of the Syrian National Army (a new name of the Free Syrian Army – TASS). There were no casualties,” Borenkov said.
On October 9, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria, codenaming it Operation Peace Spring, with the Turkish Armed Forces and the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army carrying it out. Erdogan’s military campaign kicked off with airstrikes on the positions of the previously US-backed Kurdish units.
The Erdogan government claimed that its goal is to clear the border area of what it calls ‘terrorists’ (Turkey’s broad label of the Kurdish forces) and establish a 30 km-long buffer zone in Syria’s north, where over Syrian refugees in Turkey would resettle. Ankara now controls a land strip, including the cities of Ras al-Ayn and Tell Ayad.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on October 13 that his country was beginning the withdrawal of 1,000 servicemen from northern Syria amid Turkey’s offensive. On October 16, withdrawing US troops destroyed their military base near the city of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) some 150 kilometers of Aleppo and left the cities of Raqqa and Tabqa in northeastern Syria.