Turkey-backed Syrian rebels launched an offensive into territory held by the Kurdish YPG militia north of the Syrian city of Aleppo on Saturday, seizing some territory before heavy shelling forced them to retreat.
The operation marked an escalation on one of the most complicated theaters of the multi-sided Syrian war. Though the rebels are targeting the YPG, Syrian regime forces are also deployed nearby as are their Russian and Iran-backed allies.
The Turkey-backed Syrian National Army took three villages before withdrawing “because of heavy shelling and the lack of an ability to sweep the area completely in the light of the targeting of our forces”, said Yousef Hammoud, its spokesman.
He said pro-Damascus forces had shelled the advancing National Army fighters.
A military source in the Afrin Liberation Forces, which is close to the YPG, said the Turkey-backed rebels had advanced into an area where the Kurdish forces had no presence before being forced out, according to Reuters news agency.