Intermittent clashes and bouts of violence continue to raise tensions in north-west Syria, where the prospect of a long-awaited Turkish-led incursion into territory held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) remains unclear. Turkish forces recently launched a series of deadly drone strikes against SDF positions that have left nearly a dozen dead, while periodic clashes between the Ankara-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) and Kurdish forces continue along frontlines in the north-west. Conditions in these frontline areas are both stagnant and unstable, while IED strikes in territory controlled by Turkish-backed forces, likely conducted by SDF-affiliated forces, underscore the worsening security situation within territory held by the two sides. Elsewhere in the north-west, Russian warplanes launched a series of deadly airstrikes that left seven civilians dead, and more than a dozen others injured, with Moscow once again supporting the regime’s campaign against opposition and radical forces in Idlib after a temporary hiatus largely as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Fighting has meanwhile continued along several fronts along the periphery of opposition-controlled territories across the north-west, with clashes recorded in northern Latakia, western Aleppo and southern Idlib during the reporting period.
Attached Map: Military Situation in North-West Syria – 2nd October 2022
- Anti-SDF attacks: Intermittent violence between Turkish-allied forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued along several fronts in north-west Syria, with Ankara intensifying its bombardments of frontline SDF positions on several occasions during the last few weeks. Turkish forces attacked an SDF vehicle in Ain Issa in rural northern Raqqa province, killing four SDF fighters (16.9). Turkish drones also targeted a joint regime/SDF-held position in Kobane in rural eastern Aleppo province, killing three and injuring several others (18.9). Seven SDF fighters were also injured in a Turkish attack against an SDF headquarters a-Sayada, north of Manbij in eastern Aleppo province (19.9).
- Motorcycle bomb: A motorcycle loaded with explosives detonated in a public market in Afrin in rural northern Aleppo province, although no casualties were immediately reported (25.9). Local officials stated that armed cells affiliated with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) were responsible for the attack.
Regime & Russian Strikes Resume
- Regime violations: The regime and allied militias continue to regularly attack towns and villages in rural southern Idlib and western Hama, with artillery targeting the areas of al-Fatira, Al-Bara, Binin, Al-Raweiha, Fileifil, Kansafra, al-Kafir, Taftanaz, Maarat a-Nasaan, a-Ziyaram, a-Saramaniya and al-Ankawi. Elsewhere in the north-west, one civilian was killed in a mortar attack that targeted an area of residential housing in rural western Aleppo’s Kaframa (22.9).
- Russian violations: Russian warplanes continue to strike various areas of north-west Syria after intensifying their attacks in recent weeks, with three separate instances recorded during the reporting period. The deadliest day of Russian airstrikes came early in September, when three Russian planes launched 11 separate strikes in various villages and towns in western Idlib—including an airstrike in Hafsarjah, just west of Idlib city, that killed seven civilians and injured 15 others (8.9). Russian airstrikes continued later in the month, targeting Idlib city and the town of Sheikh Yousef in rural western Idlib (17.9). Russian jets would also launch several airstrikes against positions surrounding IDP camps near Kalbid along the Syrian-Turkish border in rural northern Idlib province (27.9), injuring eight civilians.
Attacks by Opposition & Radical Factions
- Fateh al-Mubin operations: Radical groups in the Fateh al-Mubin (Great Conquest) operations room conducted several operations against regime forces, including a deadly raid along the Khirbat Jadariya front in western Aleppo that left six regime soldiers dead (23.9) and another operation that killed an unspecified number of regime fighters along the Al-Malaja front in southern Idlib (17.9). Fateh al-Mubin’s anti-tank regiment also launched a missile attack against a position containing regime and allied militia fighters near al-Malaja in southern Idlib, killing at least one and injuring several others (20.9). Earlier confrontations in rural northern Latakia saw Fateh al-Mubin forces use heavy artillery to destroy a regime fortification along the Kalaz front, and strike several positions in nearby Kinsabbe and Jabal Abu Ali known to contain Iranian- and Russian-backed forces (17.9).
- NLF strike: Opposition factions within the National Liberation Front (NLF) coalition attacked a joint regime and Iranian-backed operations room along the Sheikh Aqil frontline in rural northern Aleppo province (27.9). The attack, which saw the NLF launch several missiles at the regime/militia-controlled position, reportedly came in retaliation for Russian-launched airstrikes that hit areas close to IDP camps in north-west Syria.
- UN aid: A UN aid convoy comprised of 16 trucks carrying WFP food parcels entered rural eastern Idlib province from regime-held territory, the second such convoy to enter Idlib from regime areas since July 2022 (29.9).