Russia Stops the Fighting Between Syrian Army, Turkish-Backed Rebels

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Syrian government forces clashed in northern Syria near al-Bab for the second time in 30 days. And for the second time, Moscow emerged as the peace mediator to resolve the conflict.

FSA forces, supported by Turkey and some Gulf states, recently claimed the city of al-Bab, despite the CIA’s move to freeze military aid to the group. Al-Bab had previously been held by Daesh militants before FSA reclaimed the city. Just four kilometers south of al-Bab, Syrian government forces seized the nearby town of Tadef. Between the two towns is where the violence is thought to have occurred.

Sources from the FSA and the Syrian armed forces confirmed the fighting, with a Syrian official telling Reuters that Russia’s intervention proved to be definitive in ending the clash. A rebel militant open fire on government forces after it was determined that Syrian troops were moving too close to al-Bab. The rebels further violated the ceasefire accord after having “targeted our forces in Tadef with artillery and machine guns,” a Syrian military official said. The official described the militants as “terrorist groups that belong to Turkey.” According to a statement from the FSA communications army, 22 troops loyal to the Syrian government were killed during the skirmish.

Officials from Moscow, Tehran, and Ankara previously agreed to serve as guarantors of a ceasefire agreement, however, according to the Syrian army official, only Moscow was involved in bringing peace during the latest violent outbreak between loyalist and rebel forces. Turkish forces were not present to ensure the ceasefire agreement, a Syrian armed forces official said. The “main aim” of rebels, according to the official, is not fighting Daesh, but realizing other goals, including an attempt to obstruct the Syrian army’s operation confronting Daesh. The source from the Syrian military did not provide an official death count.