Aerial footage published by the Turkish Anadolu Agency showed the presence of a network of trenches and tunnels used by the Syrian Democratic Forces to hide weapons in the city of “Tal Rifaat” and its neighboring villages north of Aleppo, following Turkish threats to launch a military operation in the city.
The aerial footage showed that the forces were hiding weapons in residential areas inside the city and in its villages, with the aim of using civilians as human shields to obstruct any progress by the Turkish forces and their allies in the National Army towards the city, according to the agency.
The footage showed that the forces dug tunnels in order to hide tanks and various weapons in some villages of the city, including the villages of “Meng”, “Ain Digna”, “Kashtaar”, “Tat Marash” and “Sheikh Issa”.
The ariel footage documented the movements of the forces, and Anadolu Agency indicated that the Syrian Democratic Forces had dug a complex network of tunnels in the city of Tal Rifaat and its villages in recent years.
Anadolu Agency stated that the forces brought more military reinforcements to the city.
The agency stated that the Syrian Democratic Forces are using the city and its villages to carry out bombing operations that target the areas controlled by the National Army and Turkish forces in the “Euphrates Shield” and “Olive Branch” areas.
The city of Tal Rifaat and its neighboring Arab-majority villages are under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces, after they took control of them after fierce battles backed by Russia, which led to the withdrawal of the revolutionary factions from the city in 2016.
The recent moves by the Syrian Democratic Forces to hide their heavy weapons in tunnels and inside residential areas follow Turkish threats to launch a military attack on the city to expel what Ankara describes as “terrorist” organizations from the city and its surroundings, according to “Anadolu”, and in order to complete the military operations that was announced by the Turkish President Erdogan, which aims to establish a 30 km safe zone in northern Syria.