The Turkish army and Turkey-backed rebels have resumed shelling on the Kurdish district of Afrin and hit the Rajo area, in Syria’s northwestern Aleppo province.
The Commander of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) said that they will liberate Azaz and Jarabulus from Turkey-backed rebels in the future.
Furthermore, the Turkish army brought tanks near the village of Qara Baba in Aleppo countryside, and drones and reconnaissance flights are being observed.
The YPG Commander, Sipan Hemo, said in response to the Turkish plans to attack Afrin that Turkey wants to occupy an area from Jarabulus, Manbij to Idlib.
Turkish officials have indicated that they want to clear out Afrin [known in Kurdish as Efrîn] from the YPG and also signed a willingness to work with Russia in Idlib and station troops there.
“They don’t even hide it, they openly say that they want an area allied to them from Jarablus and Manbij to Idlib. Aleppo was actually a part of their plans before, but after they struck a deal with Russia, they let go with Aleppo. Now they want a corridor from Sheba [northern Aleppo] to Idlib towards Rojava and they plan accordingly,” YPG commander Hemo said in an interview with Yeni Özgür Politika.
“We expect attacks in the coming days on Shehba and Efrîn from both Ezaz [Azaz] and Idlib sides to weaken our forces, create a corridor and achieve control from Jarablus to Idlib. They are stockpiling and reinforcing daily to this end. Sometimes they attack, and we retaliate immediately. All their attacks have been voided. There are no changes in territorial control up to date,” he said.
The YPG commander said that Russia is disturbed by the recent alliance between the US and the Kurds, and their operation to liberate Raqqa from ISIS.
“Look, our goal in this region is clear and transparent. We don’t accept the Turkish state presence in the region in any form. They may have gained some opportunities and built some international alliances. I want to stress this: We don’t recognize these alliances either. The liberation of Azaz-Jarablus will always be one of our goals and our struggle to this end will continue,” he said.
“Since the beginning, the Turkish state has taken an illegitimate position towards Rojava and Syria, and their presence goes against the interests of the peoples here,” Hemo concluded.
Timur Akhmetov, a Turkey expert at the Russian International Affairs Council, told ARA News that Russia will not fully support Turkish ambitions in Afrin.
“I think that Turkish shelling of Afrin will be limited to harassing measures directed to shackle PYD [Kurdish Democratic Union Party] forces in the canton. More importantly, these shelling and news on a allegedly approaching military intrusion ın fact, may be part of either preparations for an actual military campaign in Idlib (in cooperation/coordination with Russia) or diplomatic efforts of Turkey to retaliate against US through PYD,” he said.
“But I don’t think Russia will be ready to give a freeway to Turkey in the Afrin canton: Syrian Kurds proved to be a perfect leverage against Turkish ambitions in Syria, so why should Russia give up on the Kurds,” Akhmetov concluded.
The US-led coalition has expressed concerns about the Turkish attacks on Afrin.
“Wee are concerned about anything that distracts or takes away from the focus that we are on right now, and that is Raqqa. So, if SDF forces that are currently in the fight in Raqqa have to, you know, train their attention and their focus elsewhere, then that means that they’re not, you know, trained — their weapons aren’t trained and they’re not fighting ISIS,” Coalition spokesperson Colonel Ryan Dillon told reporters on Thursday.
“So we have a concern if that happens. And it doesn’t have to happen from, you know — it doesn’t matter what force that comes from. Anything that takes their attention away — could be regime, could be, you know, what you were talking about — that distracts from what it is that we’re trying to do. So, that concerns us,” he said.
However, unlike Russia, the US does not have a presence in Afrin. “Our focus is on liberating Raqqa right now. Our forces aren’t operating in the area that you’re talking about,” US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Thursday.
Sharvan Darwish, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on Thursday called on the world to stop the Turkish aggression against Rojava. “For years, we’ve been fighting the terrorists with our lives and blood!” he said. “[The] world should take a stand against Turkish occupying aggression around Afrin.”
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
For the latest news follow us on Twitter
Join our Weekly Newsletter