Fact Check: Russian Forces Did NOT Withdraw From A City In Syria

Fact Check

  • by: Rebaz Majeed
Fact Check: Russian Forces Did NOT Withdraw From A City In Syria No Pullout

Did Russian forces withdraw from positions they've held in the Syrian city of Til Rifaat? No, that's not true. Local Syrian press accounts say the Russian forces are performing regular movements around the strategic city in North West Syria and there are no signs they will depart and allow Turkish forces in the area to sieze the city.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) where it was published on TikTok by @dy1bsg6trpse on June 2, 2023 with a caption reading:

Breaking! the Russian forces leave their areas in Til Rifaat which is under the control of SDF millitias.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

TikTok screenshot

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Jun 5 10:02:32 2023 UTC)

The claim was shared by numerous TikTok users, many expressing their opinion the movement might presage an imminent invasion of the city by Turkish forces already in the area. However, according to the local media outlets in Syria, the claim is inaccurate, the Russian forces have not withdrawn from Til Rifaat and Russian military vehicles pictured in the area were instead conducting regular troop movements.

The claim has been debunked by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syria TV. Moreover, reportedly, the claim that Russian forces have withdrawn from Til Rifaat was originally made by the online news site Hawar Agency but later was removed from the site.

Til Rifaat is a Syrian city in Aleppo governorate located in North West Syria which has been under the control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) since 2016. While Ankara has previously threatened to start military operations against the Kurdish forces in Til Rifaat and take control of the city, the presence of the Russian forces allied to the Syrian government in Damascus has prevented Turkey from invading the city.

  Rebaz Majeed

Rebaz Majeed is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. He is a multilingual freelance journalist and researcher. He worked for five years as a reporter for Voice of America (VOANews) in Iraq. Currently, he is pursuing his MA in Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East at Free Berlin University. Rebaz brings extensive knowledge and expertise to his role at LeadStories.

Read more about or contact Rebaz Majeed

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