On Thursday, various Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions seized two villages in a highly contested battle-zone between Al-Bab and Arima, northeast of Aleppo city.
Reaching the main road between Al-Bab and Manbij for the very first time since launching operation ‘Euphrates Shield’ in late August, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels were able to impose full control over the villages of Agil and Ajami.
However, a major game changer occurred earlier today as the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) killed 3 Turkish soldiers and injured 10 more in the region. Furthermore, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched their own first advances towards Al-Bab alongside friendly Kurdish forces, thereby seizing several villages west of Al-Bab in the region.
There were also unconfirmed reports on Thursday evening of a second wave of SyAAF airstrikes on Turkish soldiers on the outskirts of al-Bab.
With the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) seemingly teaming up with the Russian-backed SAA, Turkish-backed FSA groups now face a considerable challenger in the race to al-Bab, the last Islamic State stronghold in Aleppo province.