Deciphering Russia's delivery of Tell Rifaat to Turkey


While speculation was rife this week about whether Turkey's next move in Syria would be toward Tell Rifaat or Manbij, Russia unexpectedly withdrew its troops March 27 from Tell Rifaat.
The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) now controls the area around Tell Rifaat, while according to unconfirmed reports, the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad control the city proper. The area is important for Ankara because the Menagh military air base in the city is a critical logistics point to reach northern Aleppo and Idlib. Thus, control provides the FSA with the strategic and psychological upper hand in the region.