Damascus Aids Kurdish Forces Against Turkey: Officials
U.S.-backed Kurdish forces get indirect help from the Syrian regime government in their war against Turkish army in the Afrin region in northwestern of Syria, Reuters reported on Sunday (February 11).
Kurdish and Syrian government representatives told Reuters that Syrian regime government is providing indirect help by allowing Kurdish fighters, civilians and politicians to reach Afrin through territory under its control.
Kurds say they have reached agreements with the Syrian regime government to allow reinforcement to be sent to Afrin from other Kurdish-dominated areas such as Kobani and the Jazeera region.
“There are different ways to get reinforcements to Afrin but the fundamental route is via regime forces. There are understandings between the two forces ... for the sake of delivering reinforcements to Afrin,” spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Kino Gabriel told Reuters.
Kurdish sources say they also enjoy leverage over Damascus because the regime government needs their cooperation to source grain and oil from areas of the northeast under Kurdish control.
Kurdish forces “have no option but coordination with the regime” to defend Afrin, a commander in the military alliance fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Reuters.
“The Syrian regime is helping the Kurds with humanitarian support and some logistics, like turning a blind eye and allowing Kurdish support to reach some fronts,” said the commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
As Turkish army launched an assault on the Afrin region last month, the Kurds asked the regime government to send forces into action to defend the border. But Damascus has ignored the appeals, Kurdish officials said.
“We tried to convince them, via the Russians, to at least protect the borders, to take a position, but we did not reach a result,” Aldar Khalil, a top Kurdish politician, told Reuters.
“If they don’t protect the borders, then at least they don’t have the right to block the way for Syrian patriots who are protecting these borders, regardless of other domestic issues.”
On January 20, Turkey launched a military operation against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in the Afrin region, backing Syrian rebels with air strikes and ground troops.
Eleven Turkish soldiers were killed on Saturday, including two military personnel when a helicopter was downed.
The Turkish military later said nine more soldiers were killed in separate incidents but did not give details. Another 11 soldiers were injured after the offensive's bloodiest day for Turkish military personnel, the army said.