Three sides blamed; Who bombs northern Aleppo?
Enab Baladi – Khaled al-Jeratli
With every targeting of the areas of influence of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA), accusations are pointed towards the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stationed in several areas of north and east Aleppo, which the latter denies and considers a “distortion of facts.”
The first of June witnessed the most recent of these attacks when the National Army-held town of Tal Abyad in northern Raqqa came under artillery bombardment that SDF was accused of committing, which the latter denied in a statement.
SDF then considered that the news holding it responsible for the targeting operations was “false news,” stressing that its forces had not carried out any operation in that area during the hours preceding the attack.
In a statement by SDF via its media office and quoting field sources, the Tal Abyad city center north of Raqqa “was bombed by an unidentified drone.”
In light of National Army accusations and SDF’s denial and the state of neutrality of the Syrian regime forces and the Islamic State (IS), civilian shelling victims are always declared killed by unknown persons.
Why is SDF being accused?
SDF is deployed in several military positions in close proximity to SNA-controlled areas. However, they share these military positions with the regime’s forces. There are also pro-Iranian militia fighters and Russian forces advisers in certain areas.
This makes it difficult to identify those responsible for shelling the area, according to military analyst Colonel Ahmed Hamadeh, who pointed out that in the outcome, all the said parties are “enemies of the Syrians in targeted areas.”
This is confirmed by several military observatories specialized in monitoring military movements in northwestern Syria at different times when the region was bombed, such as the Idlib Military Observatory and the Syria Civil Defense Observatory.
With regard to the bombings that have been taking place in northwestern Syria for several months, Observatory 80, which is responsible for monitoring military movements in the region, told Enab Baladi that bombings on various fighting fronts in northwestern Syria were only carried out with Russian approval.
Meanwhile, Colonel Ahmed Hamadeh considered that it is not that hard for residents of targeted areas to identify the source of the missiles; the location of the missile’s impact can indicate the source of its launch, and that makes it easy to identify the party responsible for the shelling by establishing the geographical scope of the shell’s launching site.
At times, it is also possible to see the location of the missile launches with the naked eye, depending on the type of weapons used in the bombing.
There are several SDF-controlled military posts in northwestern Syria, which are shared with the Syrian regime and Russian forces, raising the likelihood that the regime will be responsible for the shelling.
On 8 June, regime forces sent military reinforcements to SDF-held areas in the countryside of Aleppo and al-Hasakah to support them against a possible Turkish military operation in northern Syria; they were raising flags with pictures of Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad.
According to what Enab Baladi had monitored, Turkey has continued to bomb sites and headquarters belonging to SDF in northeastern Syria on a daily basis since early April. SDF responded by bombing SNA-held areas in northwestern Syria.
What about the regime and IS?
On 23 April, the director of the SDF media center, Farhad Shami, said that SDF forces do not have any information about the party that targeted a Turkish armored vehicle, which resulted in the killing of Turkish soldiers in the vicinity of the city of Marea, north of Aleppo, according to the local North-Press Agency.
SDF denies responsibility for the operation, although Turkey considers it its only traditional enemy in the region, in light of the SDF- regime alliances and the decline of IS cells in it.
One unidentified missile targeted a Turkish military armored vehicle on the outskirts of Marea, killing two Turkish soldiers and wounding three others, according to what the agency quoted the Violations Documentation Center in northern Syria as saying.
According to a source in the SNA, two elements were killed, and others were injured in early April as a result of targeting a military checkpoint of the Third Corps – al-Jabha al-Shamiya that is under the command of the Syrian National Army, in the Salama (Siju) area in the Azaz countryside, north of Aleppo.
Local pages reported that five people, including the leader Mohammed Hamdo Barbouri, were killed as a result of the targeting.
On those responsible for the attack, the War Media Network quoted a National Army security source as saying that a military checkpoint of the Third Corps forces had been attacked by IS elements and clashed with them, leaving people dead and wounded.
For its part, IS used to announce its operations of assassination, killing, bombing, or targeting, whether inside or outside Syria, through its Amaq agency or its identifier on Telegram.
However, it did not declare responsibility or its support of the targeting of the al-Jabha al-Shamiya checkpoint in northern Aleppo, according to what Enab Baladi monitored based on the organization’s operations that it announced from the date of the operation until the present day.
Colonel Ahmed Hamadeh considered that IS has interests in attacking National Army areas of influence in view of its hostility to the “Syrians’ revolution,” as is the case with the regime and SDF, which is why it is still a suspect.
The Islamic State’s position regarding this targeting is not that different from the position taken by the Syrian regime, as it distances itself from conducting this type of attack, even though Turkey sometimes targets areas where the regime’s fighters are stationed.
On 27 April, local networks loyal to SDF said that Turkish artillery and allied forces targeted the Tal Tamr district of the al-Hasakah countryside with a number of artillery shells. The bombing focused on the village of Umm al-Kaif in the countryside of Tal Tamr, injuring three soldiers of the regime’s forces.
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