Turkey announced that it is resuming air strikes in support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as part of operation Euphrates Shield after an agreement with the “interested parties” was reached.
In statements that he made after a Turkish cabinet meeting, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey and the Turkish government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus said that his country has resumed the provision of air support for the Free Syrian Army as part of operation Euphrates Shield. He also said that the FSA is close to the city of Al-Bab in the eastern countryside of the Aleppo province.
Kurtulmus added that Turkey can once again provide the FSA with logistical support from the air after talks with the parties concerned including Russia and Turkey, and that Turkey will end operation Euphrates Shield only when it has fully achieved its objectives.
The Syrian regime and forces loyal to it threatened to target any Turkish military aircraft flying in northern Syria after Turkey bombed sites belonging to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units last month as part of operation Euphrates Shield. Moscow also expressed its reservation about the Turkish bombardment.
Turkey has coordinated with Russia through a tripartite mechanism involving representatives of the general staff, the intelligence services and the foreign ministries of the two countries regarding Syria. Moscow will facilitate communication between Ankara and the Syrian regime if this becomes necessary.
Sources said that Turkey is particularly keen that the demographic structure and composition in Aleppo does not change. They also said that there is coordination with Moscow in this regard and also with regards to ways of providing humanitarian aid to the besieged residents of Aleppo.
On the ground, armed opposition factions that are taking part in operation Euphrates Shield are continuing to make advances in the direction of the city of Al-Bab which is the last ISIS stronghold in the eastern Aleppo countryside with the support of the Turkish army and air cover provided by the international coalition. They have managed to reach the outskirts of Al-Bab after gaining control of eight villages in the east of the city after violent clashes with ISIS fighters.