Turkey-backed rebels join anti-regime offensive in Syria’s Hama

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Rebel fighters of the Free Syrian Army launch a rocket towards the regime-held Hama military airport. File photo: Reuters

ARA News

More than 500 pro-Turkey rebel fighters from the Euphrates Shield operation joined operations against the Syrian army in Hama city, local sources reported on Friday.

Syrian rebel groups, including Islamist factions, launched an offensive against regime headquarters in Hama last Tuesday.

After days of heavy fighting against pro-regime troops, the rebels reportedly captured several villages in the vicinity of Hama city.

“The Syrian armed opposition militias cobbled together in that camp are from northwestern Syria, and their natural battlespace is there, fighting against Assad,” Nicholas A. Heras, Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), told ARA News.

“Turkey is demonstrating that from its Euphrates Shield base inside of Syria it can drive rural insurgencies against Assad throughout the northwest part of the country,” he added.

The operation is considered one of the biggest offensives by Syrian rebel groups in months, after being expelled from the key city of Aleppo by the Russia-backed Syrian Army forces last December.

However, Syrian state media reported that the rebels have been driven back by regime reinforcements and Russian air strikes.

The Turkish move is a signal of more tensions between Turkey and Russia, despite earlier improvement of relations last year.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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