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FSA Relocating to Outside Syria's Liberated Areas
By Khaled al-Khateb

Aleppo, Syria -- Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions in areas liberated during Operation Euphrates Shield in the Aleppo countryside are making significant efforts to eliminate their military checkpoints and armed presence in the small cities and towns under their control. Since early August, they have been moving their posts to outskirts, to operational military barracks and others under construction, believing that it will contribute to instilling stability and promoting prosperity in these areas. The factions expect cities and towns to be free of their armed presence in early 2018.

Civilians in the liberated areas have welcomed the decision. The FSA took the step of withdrawing from populated areas mainly because residents were angered by militia checkpoints and the troubling actions by some faction members, such as arbitrary shootings of civilians. Fed up, locals had begun asking them to leave.

Turkey had launched Euphrates Shield on Aug. 24 of last year, joined by allied FSA militias, to battle the Islamic State (IS) and Syrian Kurdish forces in northern Syria. After the campaign ended on March 29, most FSA factions settled in repopulated areas liberated from IS, including Akhtarin, al-Bab, Bizaah, Ghandoura, Jarablus and Qabaseen. Clashes would occasionally break out between the FSA groups, terrifying civilians and creating chaos. Such sporadic fighting has become less frequent as FSA militants have left populated areas.

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