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Published On: Tue, Jan 23rd, 2018

Russia gave Turkey the green light to attack Syrian Kurds: Keno Gabriel

nsnbc : The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Monday that Russia has betrayed the SDFby allowing Turkey to carry out attacks on the primarily Syrian – Kurdish region of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava. Ironically, Turish  Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that Turkey is coordinating the attack with the Syrian government.

Sipan Hemo, YPG commander in Rojava.

Sipan Hemo, YPG commander in Rojava.

SDF spokesman Keno Gabriel said during a press conference in Kobane that Russia had given a green light to Turkey to launch the attacks on Afrin, after calling on Russia for clarification.

“We agreed with Russia to observe Afrin on the peaceful principles but it now supports Turkey (and) is allowing Turkish warplanes to attack civilians in Afrin. It means Russia has betrayed us,” Gabriel added.

The SDF spokesman added that the SDF have not attacked Turkey’s land but the Turkish army has crossed the borders into Rojava. Meanwhile, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) Commander General, Sipan Hemo, said Russian forces have been in Afrin for two years and that they claimed they would resolve certain issues with Kurds.

“They have constantly said a solution without Kurds is impossible. We had certain arrangements with Russia. But, Russia suddenly disregarded these agreements and betrayed us. They have clearly sold us out,” Hemo added.

Turkey on Monday intensified its offensive against the Kurdish targets in Syria as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed there would be no stepping back in a campaign that has stoked concern among Ankara’s allies and neighbors. The Turkish military on Saturday launched operation “Olive Branch,” its second major incursion into Syrian territory during the seven-year civil war.

The operation, where Turkish warplanes and artillery are backing a major ground incursion launched with Ankara-backed Syrian rebels and Turkish tanks, aims to oust the YPG from its enclave of Afrin. Erdogan confirmed on Monday that the campaign had the backing of Moscow. “We spoke about this with our Russian friends. We have an agreement,” Erdogan said. Erdogan further said Turkey had also spoken with the United States but “we couldn’t convince the U.S. on some things.” He did not give further details.

Ankara still denies the constitutional existence of its 22.5 million or so Kurds and dreads the creation of a Kurdish state in Syrian Kurdistan could encourage separatism amongst Turkey’s Kurds. The SDF and the YPG have, however, repeatedly stressed that they do fully respect the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and that they neither do nor will pose a threat for Turkey.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov - The Dark Side.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov – The Dark Side.

Russia on Saturday voiced concern and urged restraint over a new Turkish operation in the Kurdish region of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan, with Moscow responding by withdrawing its troops from the zone in question. The United States regards the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its powerful military wing YPG/YPJ, as key ally against Islamic State and the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and has provided them with arms, air support as well as the military advisers. The YPG, which has over 60,000 fighters, has seized swathes of Syria from IS.

Ironically, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey is to some degree coordinating the “Olive Branch Operation” with the administration of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

In a press briefing on Sunday Ilker Yücsel, reporter for the Aydinlik Day newspaper that is linked to Turkey’s ultra nationalistic and rabidly anti-Kurdish Vatan Partisi, asked Prime Minister Yildirim the following question.

“As you had pronounced before, the President of the Syrian Arab Republic, Bashar al Assad had declared that terror organizations in Syria aim at the territorial integrity of the country. Al Assad had qualified the YPG and PYD as “national traitors”. Don’t you think that for the success of the Olive Branch Operation there needs to be direct contact between the Turkish and Syrian governments?”

 Yildirim replied:

“Considering what we lived in the past 7 years, this is not happening easily. But indirect, low level contacts are continuing. At the point that we arrived now, the Syrian regime is part of the work. We can not ignore this fact.”



Asked about the nature of the Free Syrian Army, Prime Minister Yıldırım answered:

“As with the Operation Euphrates Shield, the Free Syrian Army takes part in Operation Olive Branch under the command of the Turkish Armed Forces. As they know the local conditions better, they provide important support. But it would no be correct to view the FSA as a different army. The FSA consists of volunteers that appeared to fight for their country”.

Turkey has repeatedly stressed that it will not tolarate the presence of any armed Kurdish group along its border west of the Euphrates river.

CH/L – nsnbc 23.01.2018

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