2019 Tell Rifaat clashes

The 2019 Tell Rifaat Clashes was a military confrontation between Turkey and allied Free Syrian Army groups against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in early May 2019.

2019 Tell Rifaat Clashes
Part of Turkish involvement in the Syrian Civil War, Operation Olive Branch and the Syrian Civil War
Date4–5 May 2019
(1 day)

Turkey/TSFA cancel the offensive[1]

  • Turkish and TFSA forces capture three villages before withdrawing due to SDF shelling[2]
  • Frontlines remain the same


Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (TFSA)


Afrin Liberation Forces (HRE)[3]
 Syrian Arab Republic[4][5]

Commanders and leaders
Azaz Ahmad Jamil Harboushi [3] Unknown
Units involved


Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (TFSA)

  • Third Legion[6]

Syrian Democratic Forces

Syrian Arab Armed Forces

Casualties and losses
4 killed, 8 injured(per SOHR)[7][8]
8 killed (per SOHR)[2][9]
40 killed (per SDF)[3]
23 killed or captured (per Turkey)[7]


The clashes began after two Turkish soldiers were killed on 4 May 2019 in a confrontation with YPG and one was injured. In retaliation the Turkish Defense Ministry stated to have killed a total of 23 YPG fighters, following the incident a Turkish official told Reuters that a larger operation would be launched "if necessary".[7] The aim of the operation is also to stop insurgent attacks on FSA and Turkish forces in Afrin coming from the Tell Rifaat area.[10]


On 4 May 2019, the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (TFSA) announced it had initiated an operation against the YPG in the villages near Tell Rifaat. The TFSA managed to initially capture the three villages of Mar'anaz, Al-Malikiyah, and Shawarighat al Arz. Facing little resistance.[11] After taking the villages the TFSA stated “Our aspiration is to reach Tel Rifaat and what is beyond it.”[12] However, subsequently, due to heavy shelling by SDF as well as pro-government forces and a large number of landmines in the area, the TFSA and the Turkish Armed Forces were forced to withdraw and the Kurdish-led forces recaptured all three villages.[2][13]

The following day, it was reported that the offensive had been cancelled in favor of more negotiations between Turkey and Russia to set up a joint demilitarized zone in the area.[1]


On 18 May 2019, new fighting erupted in the Tell Rifaat area,[14] with five rebels and one civilian being killed.[15] On 9 June 2019, fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces attacked the Turkish troops, killing 1 soldier and wounding 7. In response, the Turkish Armed Forces responded days later with shelling.[8]

See also


  1. Desk, News (5 May 2019). "Turkish Army cancels offensive in northern Aleppo amid safe zone talks with Russia: reports". Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  2. "The pro-Turkey factions of "Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield" withdraw from the areas they have advanced into in the northern countryside at the expense of the Kurdish forces after heavy shelling and landmine explosions". Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  3. ANF News Desk (5 May 2019). "Afrin Liberation Forces: 40 terrorists killed in Afrin". ANF News. Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  4. Zagros, Berxwedan (4 May 2019). "Kurdish forces and #SAA repelled attacks by Turkish-backed jihadists on Malikiya for the third time. There many casualties among #TFSA". Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  5. Woofers (4 May 2019). "Syrian Army artillery was directly involved with shelling TFSA positions today". Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-05-05. Retrieved 2019-05-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Four Turkish soldiers killed in attacks by Kurdish militants,..." 4 May 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2019 via www.reuters.com.
  8. SouthFront (4 May 2019). "Turkish-Backed Militants Launch Surprise Military Operation In Northern Aleppo, Capture Key Town South Of Afrin (Photos)". Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  9. Şafak, Yeni (4 May 2019). "Tel Rıfat operasyonu başladı: Maranez köyü PKK'dan kurtarıldı". Yeni Şafak. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  10. Desk, Devdiscourse News. "Syrian rebel force liberate Kurdish YPG-held village - official". Devdiscourse. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  11. "Turkey-backed Syrian rebels launch attack into Kurdish-held area". 4 May 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2019 via www.reuters.com.
  12. "Under the continuous escalation and after less than 15 days of killing Turkish officers, renewed violent clashes in Tal Rifaat area between the Kurdish Forces and pro-Turkish factions killed 5 of the latter, coinciding with a violent Turkish bombardment targets Tal Rifaat and its vicinity".
  13. "At least 7 people were killed and injured in the heavy shelling by the Turkish Forces on Tal Rifaat north of Aleppo".
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