World Bulletin / News Desk
Home to more than 20,000 residents, mostly Arabs, according to the 2004 census, Tal Rifaat had around 40,000 residents, including the Syrians who fled their hometown, and had become a war zone long before Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, Syria.
Tal Rifaat is just 35 kilometers from the Aleppo city center and is currently controlled by the terrorist PYD/PKK. It is seen as a natural extension of Turkey's Afrin counter-terrorist operation, as the city was captured by PKK terrorists from Afrin.
According to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) data, nearly 75,000 people fled Afrin to go to Tal Rifaat during Operation Olive Branch.
After the Syrian war erupted in 2011, in 2012 regime forces withdrew from Tal Rifaat, leaving it to groups such as the Al-Shamiyya Front, Sokour al-Jabal, and Fastaqim, which were fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army.
The city was under ISIL control between November 2013 and January 2014 and then was retaken by the Free Syrian Army.