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Syrian Kurds squeezed between Turkish threat, Russian pressure in Ain Issa

Amid growing fears of a fresh Turkish offensive, the Syrian Kurds are under Russian pressure to cede full or partial control of the strategic town of Ain Issa to the Syrian government.
A Turkish soldier stands near his armoured vehicle on a highway near the northern Syrian town of Ain Issa in the countryside of the Raqqa region, on November 26, 2019, as Turkey-backed forces deploy reinforcements around the key town. - Ankara and its Syrian proxies launched on October 9 a cross-border attack against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, which allowed Turkey, along with a subsequent Russian-Turkish accord, to control a strip of land on the Syrian side of the border. Ain Issa lies on the south
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The Kurdish-controlled town of Ain Issa has become the focal point of fresh tensions in northeast Syria as Turkey appears to be exploring a new military operation to undo Kurdish gains before US President-elect Joe Biden assumes office. 

The Russian response to the Turkish threat evokes the scenario that led to Turkey’s seizure of the mainly Kurdish region of Afrin in 2018. In a bid to preclude a Turkish move, the Russians had pressed the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to cede control of the area to the Syrian government. The YPG refused, leading Russia to tacitly greenlight the Turkish incursion. According to local sources, the Russians are now pressing the Kurds to hand Ain Issa over to the Syrian government, warning them that the Turkish military and allied militias are determined to seize the town. A formula similar to the arrangement in Qamishli is reportedly on the table as well. When the Kurds took control of the Kurdish-majority city in 2012, they agreed to leave the control of the airport and an area housing public buildings to Damascus.

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