Syrian civilians in northern al-Hasakeh province have been resisting Russian army patrols that are attempting to enter towns near the Syria-Turkey border and establish military posts in them, a local activist told Diyaruna.
The move is seen as a precursor to the establishment of permanent bases in the area, local activist Ammar Saleh said, with Russian media outlets confirming the overall objective is to expand the Russian presence in the area.
Russian forces have been attempting to ingratiate themselves by offering food aid to the local residents, which has been roundly refused, he told Diyaruna.
Under the circumstances, residents consider it "a bribe and an insult", he said.
Residents of the town of Qasr al-Dib in rural al-Hasakeh held a demonstration at the entrance to the town when a Russian patrol attempted to enter it, with the aim of establishing a permanent base there, Saleh said.
They blocked the main road to Russian military vehicles, at which point the soldiers attempted to persuade the residents to allow them to enter the town, to no avail, he said.
The Russian forces eventually withdrew, he said.
A similar incident took place in the village of Deir Ghosn in al-Malikiyah area in north-eastern al-Hasakeh, Saleh said.
In this case, he said, local residents forced a Russian patrol to withdraw completely, after it tried to take up a position in co-operation with a number of Syrian regime army soldiers.
The residents of this area also refused to receive food aid from Russian military police, he added, noting that this only served to further stoke their anger.
Anger at al-Assad regime
Russian forces have tried to enter these areas before, Saleh said, with the most recent attempt on June 3rd, when a Russian patrol arrived from the city of Qamishli and remained until the next day, before it was forced to withdraw.
Civilians in al-Hasakeh are resisting the Russian army's attempts to deploy in the area "because they see the Russians as the main reason for the survival of the regime of [Syrian president Bashar] al-Assad", he said.
The US on Tuesday warned al-Assad that he will never secure a full victory and must reach a political compromise, as it imposed stinging new sanctions on the Syrian regime.
The new sanctions, known as the Caesar Act, went into effect Wednesday and seek to prevent al-Assad's normalisation without accountability for human rights abuses.
Syrian civilians in al-Hasakeh largely perceive Russia as acting solely in its own political, economic and strategic interests, and not in the interest of the Syrian people, Saleh said.