The Turkish artillery is shelling the town of Ayn Issa and its outskirts in Syria’s Raqqa governorate, where Kurdish units of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) are active, Lebanon’s Al Akhbar newspaper reported.
According to the newspaper, incessant shelling forced civilians to flee Ayn Issa and move southward to the region’s administrative capital Raqqa, which is 55 km away.
Intense hostilities in the area resumed after the November 24 incident. On that day, SDF forces ambushed a convoy of Ankara-backed Syrian opposition groups, killing more than 30 militants.
According to Kurdish sources, the Turkish military command and the armed opposition are now discussing an operation to seize Ayn Issa. To that end, Turkey has already started to redeploy personnel, weapons and armored vehicles to its military base in Mardud, TASS reports.
According to Al Akhbar, Ankara is planning to launch the second stage of its Operation Peace Spring, aiming to expand the buffer security zone in northern Syria from Kobani to Manbijj. SDF official spokesman Kino Gabriel said Kurdish groups "have sought urgent contacts with Russia and the United States in a bid to stop Turkish shelling and defend the civilian population."
On October 9, 2019, Turkey announced Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria with the aim to create a 30-km buffer zone where Syrian refugees would return from Turkey. Kurds withdrew their units from these areas but carry out armed sallies from time to time. In March 2018, Turkish troops occupied the Afrin Region populated by Kurds and located 65 km away from Aleppo.