Afrin, in the northwest of the country, has seen the most activity in recent hours, with militia arriving from other parts of the country to take part in the infighting

Fighting between Jihadist militias and Turkish Military Police in Syria

AFP/ BAKR ALKASEM - Syrian fighters supported by Turkey in the area of the road between Tal Abyad and Kobane

The war in Syria continues on its course. The latest reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) indicate that the city of Afrin, located in the northwest of the country, very close to the border with Turkey, has been the epicenter of fighting over the last few hours.

The clashes, however, have not taken place between what, in theory, are the two sides that are facing each other. So, armed groups of fighters under the command of Turkey, which are supposed to represent a common front against Bachar al-Asad's Syrian Arab Army, have started fighting each other.

SOHR reports violent exchanges between the Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Jabha al-Shamiya organisations. The Turkish Military Police, also deployed in this town, has been caught in the crossfire. So far, its troops have defended the interests of Al-Jabha al-Shamiya, the group that, in principle, is permanently based in Afrin.

Although no deaths have yet been reported on either side as a result of these clashes, SOHR has reported that there have been numerous injuries. In addition, Ahrar al-Sham militia have laid siege to several Turkish Military Police barracks around Afrin and have tried to isolate the enclave by setting up barricades on the city' s main communication routes.

It does not appear that, in the coming hours, the situation will go down the path of detente. SOHR sources indicate that an increasing number of fighters from Ahrar al-Sham are arriving in the town to reinforce those already there.

Soldados turcos en una patrulla conjunta turca en la autopista M4 en las afueras de Ariha, en la provincia de Idlib, al noroeste de Siria, el 7 de mayo de 2020
What is Ahrar al-Sham?

What reasons might be driving this grouping to battle its theoretical allies in this way? It is possible that what their leaders are looking for is precisely to mark the distances with the Turkish Army. Over the last few months and through a complex network of ties with a myriad of players, the military deployed by Ankara has taken control of a large part of the Syrian territories that are not yet under the control of the Damascus regime.

In particular, Ahrar al-Sham is considered one of the most extremist groups in the whole conglomerate that brings together the opposition to Al-Asad. This group, with an openly Salafist ideology, emerged in late 2011, shortly after the citizens' revolts that ended up mutating into the civil war that is still going on today.

Stanford University's Militant Organisations Monitoring Network (MOMN) positions this group as a close ally of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (the former al-Nusra Front). In contrast, over the course of the war, it has maintained far more overt differences, for example, with Daesh, with whom it has competed in its aspiration to control territory.

Today, among the most extremist elements of the opposition to Al-Asad, the soldiers of the Turkish Armed Forces are beginning to be perceived more as enemies than as allies. Not only because of the Erdogan Government's claim to have the greatest possible influence in its neighbouring country; it should also be remembered that, by virtue of the ceasefire signed by Moscow and Ankara at the beginning of March for the Idlib area, both countries undertook to do what they could to weaken the infrastructure of the various terrorist networks operating in the country.

Although, in the case of Turkey, this is a more nominal than practical commitment, the confidence of many jihadists in Erdogan has been evaporating - as is the case with the most radical sectors of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham - which, in the coming weeks, may lead to the reformulation of the always unstable alliances in Syria.

FotografÍa de archivo, combatientes rebeldes del movimiento Ahrar al-Sham en Jabal al-Arbaeen, el 26 de mayo de 2015
Anti-terrorist operation in Deir Ezzor

The fight against terrorism therefore represents a very important part of the operations of state players in the Syrian theatre. One of the most recent episodes took place in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, bordering Iraq.

The International Coalition against Daesh, along with the Syrian Defence Forces (SDF) operating in the area, have carried out a raid in a rural area against a Daesh cell. The aim of the operation was to neutralise high-level profiles of the terrorist organisation, which has re-emerged in western Iraq in recent months.

En esta foto de archivo tomada el 24 de marzo de 2019, los combatientes de las Fuerzas Democráticas Sirias (SDF) muestran el signo de la victoria junto a su bandera en Baghouz

Initially, there was speculation that the target of the assault was the leader of the organisation Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, appointed after the fall of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, this hypothesis was soon officially disproved by Operation Inherent Response spokesman Myles B. Caggins. According to the information provided, the search resulted in the arrest of an Iraqi terrorist combatant who held an intermediate position in the terrorist group.