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UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

A place to talk about domestic politics in Middle East (Iran, Iraq , Turkey, Syria) Also includes topics about Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean .

Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:55 pm

Hundreds of thousands in Afrin:

    We will defeat the attacks
Please click on image to enlarge:
915

Historic march has begun in Afrin with the motto “With the will of people, we will defeat the Turkish state’s and gangs’ attacks to invade Afrin”.

The march has started from the Newroz Square in the city centre. People are carrying olive branches and symbols of Western Kurdistan (Northern Syria) revolution.

Representatives of all political parties and civil society organizations are joining the march.

The march will turn into a rally in front of the Revolution Hospital.

Hawar News Agency (ANHA) has published footage from the historic march.

https://youtu.be/aDgv_uMri14


I have just watched this video and I have to say that Afrin does not look empty to me - we need to send this to all the media outlets that keep spreading Turkey's propaganda and lies claiming most of the civilians have either run away from Afrin or been chased out by the PYG X(
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Feb 05, 2018 1:52 pm

Risk of Conflict in Northern Syria Between U.S., Turkey Rising

Turkey says it’s talking to the Americans. The U.S. says it’s talking to the Turks. Politicians and generals in the two countries are in almost constant communication, judging by their public comments.

There’s no indication that any of this talk has resolved the fundamental argument that’s threatening to bring NATO’s two biggest armies into direct conflict in northern Syria.

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an offensive there last month against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters, he started in an area where American troops aren’t embedded with their allies.

But he said the operation will soon extend further east, to the town of Manbij, where they are. “We’ll press against terrorists without taking into consideration who’s next to them,” Erdogan said Jan. 30. Several ministers have made the same point.

‘Defend Themselves’

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish militia as part of a terror group seeking to break off a chunk of Turkey. The U.S. has welcomed Kurdish support against Islamic State -- and now that that fight is largely done, leaving the Kurds in charge of about one-quarter of Syria, they’re seen as a bulwark against a resurgent Bashar al-Assad and his backers in Iran and Russia.

Russia moved its soldiers in northern Syria out of the way of the advancing Turks. The U.S. is signaling it won’t follow suit.
I think that was a wise move on their behalf so as not to escalate the conflict

Withdrawing from Manbij is “not something we’re looking into,” General Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, told CNN. “Wherever U.S. troops are, they’re going to be able to defend themselves,” General Kenneth McKenzie, joint staff director at the Pentagon, told reporters on Jan. 25. “We coordinate very closely on that,” he said of the Turks. “They know where our forces are.”

Why U.S. and Turkey Disagree About Syrian Kurds: QuickTake Q&A

    Pentagon chief Jim Mattis told reporters in Washington Friday that it is possible to balance the alliance with Turkey while still supporting the Kurds, and suggested that having U.S. troops working with the Kurdish militias in Syria was one way of aiding Turkey’s security.

    “We are convinced right now that by having our troops on the ground, we know they’re not contributing to any attacks on Turkey,” Mattis said.

    Ties between the U.S. and Turkey have been tense for years, and when there’s a flare-up Turkish financial markets usually take a hit. Turkey blames America for hosting the Islamic preacher it accuses of instigating a failed coup in 2016. The U.S. last year prosecuted a senior Turkish banker for breaking Iran sanctions. Briefly, both countries stopped issuing visas for each other’s citizens.

    The current standoff is probably the most serious. Relations are “teetering on the brink of a precipice,” and direct military conflict is a real possibility, according to Anthony Skinner, a director at U.K.-based forecasting company Verisk Maplecroft. The two nations have drawn red lines, which “magnifies the risk of miscalculation on both sides,” he said.

    ‘Can’t Be Dismissed’

    Turkey’s attack on Kurdish fighters in Afrin, in northwest Syria, came days after the U.S. announced that it would help Syrian Kurds set up a 30,000-strong border security force. Washington later backtracked on that description.

    It was probably the new unit’s existence, not its name, that concerned Erdogan. The American focus on such details has angered Turkey before. At a security summit in Colorado last summer, Raymond Thomas, a senior U.S. general, explained how he’d persuaded the Syrian Kurdish fighters to change their “brand,” and distance themselves from the PKK, the Kurdish group fighting for self-rule in Turkey.

    But Turkey feels betrayed by the U.S. over its alliance with the Syrian Kurds, however they’re labeled, according to Nihat Ali Ozcan, an analyst at the Ankara-based Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey. And it sees a direct threat to its national security from a Kurdish enclave along its southern border, reinforced by American troops and weapons.

    That’s why “the risk of a friendly fire between Turkish and U.S. troops can’t be dismissed unless one of the sides back down,” Ozcan said.

    Euphrates to Mediterranean

    American officials stress that they understand Turkish security concerns. Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Bekir Bozdag, said his government wants to avoid a confrontation, though he added that the U.S. “should warn its operatives in the field not to face off with Turkey.”

    The biggest Kurdish-held area is further east, toward the point where Syria, Iraq and Turkey meet. But by pushing Kurdish fighters out of Afrin and Manbij, Turkey would clear its enemies from a strategic stretch of land running from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean, Skinner said.

    Wearing a khaki camouflage jacket, Erdogan visited the army operation center near the Syrian border last week. He praised Turkish officers for “rebuilding the nation’s history.”

    The president may have domestic political reasons for his campaign too. Public support is running strong, with polls suggesting more than 80 percent of Turks back the operation, and opposition leaders (except the local Kurdish party) falling in line. Erdogan is up for re-election next year, and there’s talk that the vote may be brought forward.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... key-rising
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:33 pm

The Kurds need Canada: What level of atrocity won’t we ignore?

Rouhlat Ali arrived in Canada from Syria as a refugee in 2007.

Jets flew over my city, dropping their bombs. When my sister finally made contact, breathless and sobbing, I knew it was true: Afrin was under siege and it would be people like my sister Rania, who lives in Afrin with her husband and five children – civilians trying to live their lives in the safest region in Syria – who would suffer.

Turkey's military operation – tellingly dubbed "Operation Olive Branch" – launched on Jan. 20, with more than 100 air strikes and an aggressive ground offensive dismantling the Northern Syrian city. Turkey claims that this is a protectionist offensive, one that seeks to combat the Kurdish military group, YPG/YPJ, also known as the People's Defence Units, which it considers a terrorist group.

Turkey's branding of the YPG/YPJ as terrorists is a convenient strategy that allows it to use anti-terrorist rhetoric as justification for invading a region that has, until now, served as a safe haven for hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing the barbarism of the Islamic State. Turkey's position on the YPG is in direct contradiction to that of the United States, a country that has supported Kurdish forces as allies in the fight against IS. The YPG, with backing from the U.S., and in conjunction with Arab militias that make up the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), have successfully pushed back IS "village by village," serving as resolute and effective allies.

Canada, the United States and much of the world is indebted to the Kurds, a people who make up a force that has fought consistently and capably against IS and had not, until Recep Tayyip Erdogan's offensive, fired a single bullet into Turkish territory, or threatened their safety. The city of Afrin was a city of peace, home to Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Muslims, Christians and Jews, functioning under pluralistic and democratic Kurdish control.

Despite this history of allyship and the celebratory accolades offered by Western media at successful Kurdish military operations against the Islamic State, Canada and the United States have offered lukewarm responses to Turkey's reckless military offensive. Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister released a statement that fails to acknowledge the role Kurds have already played in fulfilling their primary focus – the "common objective" of "defeating Daesh."

I cannot save my sister or the thousands of innocent people in my city, but I can bear witness. And I do – I viewed a now widely circulated video of YPJ soldier Barin Kobani (Amina Omar) mutilated by Turkish soldiers. Her body is unclothed, her breasts removed, her abdomen suffers a deep wound. This video, taken by Turkish soldiers, was submitted to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and, along with other evidence, shows Barin captured alive and then tortured. Terrorist groups (IS/al-Qaeda) and Turkish soldiers are responsible for the severe human-rights transgressions happening before our eyes. I cannot save my sister, but I can watch – and feel as deeply as possible the pain and suffering of people who, like you and I, simply want to live.

I attend protests here in Canada and send videos to my sister back in Afrin. I want her to see us, the Kurds in Canada, outraged and resolute. If anything, Kurds are resilient. I want her to see that.

But, at the end of each protest, I go home and the feeling I have is irrefutable. I am despondent and angry. We march in the streets, but where do our voices go? This feels like a waiting game where the world tries to figure out what level of atrocity is tolerable enough to ignore.

While powerful nations play a strategic game of morally-deficient diplomacy, civilians in Afrin pay the price. The United States and Canada continue to ride Kurdish coattails of bravery and success, but have not offered protection to civilians in Afrin, nor a clear and definitive stand against Turkish aggression.

Turkey's invasion of Afrin is not a move for safety. It is not an effort to fight terrorism. These are easy answers being fed to a divided Turkish population that Mr. Erdogan desires to control by channelling a collective fear of the Kurds as an ethnic group. Mr. Erdogan has effectively silenced any Turkish dissent by branding any criticism of his attacks on Afrin as "terror propaganda" and arresting anyone who speaks out. Any leader who is afraid of criticism from his own citizens is not interested in safety, but in control.

Canada must recognize this offensive for what it is – a desire to control a resource-rich section of Syria and a concerted effort to remove Kurds, no matter the price.

And the price is high – more than 150 civilians have been killed, 300 have been injured and thousands of refugees have now been twice displaced.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... e37869826/
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:28 pm

Afrin could be Turkey’s Vietnam, veteran Kurdish politician says
Figen Güneş

Turkey’s attempted invasion of the Kurdish-held Syrian enclave of Afrin could turn out to be its “Vietnam”, a leading Kurdish politician and former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.

Turkish troops, backed by their Syrian rebel allies, launched an air and ground offensive against Afrin, in northwest Syria, on Jan. 20. They aim to clear the area of a Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), that Turkey says is part of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting a separatist insurgency in Turkey since 1984.

“The Turkish government may take the area under its power, however this would resemble U.S. control in South Vietnam,” Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat told Ahval in an interview. “There is resistance in Afrin so Turkey may lose things to the degree they cannot handle and this may lead to the end of the government.”

Fırat, alongside President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was one of the founding members of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the conservative Islamist party that has ruled Turkey since 2002.

A lawyer by profession, Fırat became a member of parliament for an Islamist predecessor to the AKP in 1999 and then for AKP itself from 2002, serving as it deputy head from 2002 to 2008.

Fırat said he resigned from the position after Erdoğan told him Kurds had neither a country nor a language. “On that day, I had told Erdoğan the Kurds brought him to power, but the cooperation ended there. Twenty million Kurds exist here and most speak Kurdish.”

But he said it was Erdoğan’s growing authoritarianism that prompted Fırat to leave the AKP in 2014 and join the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a pro-Kurdish leftist coalition of minorities. He was again elected to parliament on its ticket in 2015.

“The party I set up is no longer there. Today's ruling party lost its core values of egalitarianism and freedom. Now it is an organisation advocating dictatorial rule in the country and each day they take this to another horrific stage,” said Fırat.

The AKP, he said, had lost values. “Look at its programme. It says it is a liberal democratic party. And now compare it with its current actions. Its leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan doesn't define it as a democratic party, instead the party has adopted crude, destructive and aggressive values.”

In its early years in power, the AKP attempted to reach out to conservative Kurdish voters by appealing to Islamic values over and above ethnic identity. Erdoğan’s government even conducted secret peace talks with the PKK and concluded a ceasefire with the militants in 2013.

But after the AKP lost its parliamentary majority in June 2015 elections, fighting erupted again and the party was able to appeal to voters’ security fears and regain control of parliament in November rerun polls.

Fırat was born into prominent Kurdish family in the southeastern province of Adıyaman in 1943. His grandfather, uncle and cousin all served as members of parliament. Turkey’s Kurds make up some 20 percent of Turkey’s 80 million people and have long chafed under a centralised Turkish nationalist state intolerant of other identities.

“The government already knows it cannot totally destroy the Kurds, but they want to immobilise them,” Fırat said.

The government has lifted the parliamentary immunities of HDP parliamentarians, leading to 10 of them being jailed on terrorism charges, including HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş, who faces up to 142 years in jail on an array of charges.

Facing local, parliamentary and crucial presidential elections next year after winning only a slim majority in last year’s referendum, Erdoğan’s AKP has made an electoral alliance with a far-right party and, Fırat said, sought to ramp security fears and Turkish nationalist sentiment with its offensive against Kurdish-controlled Afrin.

"The intervention into Syria was put underway to prepare voters for the elections," he said. “This will increase AKP votes.”

More than two weeks into the Turkish operation, progress has been slow and Turkish casualties have begun to mount against U.S.-trained YPG forces, battle hardened from fighting Islamic State.

Turkey, he said, sees Afrin as a "secluded and easy part of Syria to take over, but it won't be easy."

Afrin and other majority Kurdish parts of northern Syria, he said, had long been a hotbed of Kurdish nationalism and had hosted thousands of Kurds who had fled Turkey since the first uprisings against the state in the 1920s.

“The Kurds of Afrin were politicised long ago and they have the strongest Kurdish nationalistic stance out of all Kurdish settlements in the Middle East," Fırat said. "Now the Afrin operation is nurturing Kurdish sentiment, thanks to Turkey's attacks." :ymapplause:

Fırat nevertheless complained about divisions within the Kurdish movement and the influence of the PKK and its leaders based in the remote Qandil mountains of northern Iraq.

“Though the HDP received 13 percent of the vote in the elections of June 2015, PKK leaders in the mountains have been overruling in the party,” he said. “Politics should be free and genuine. PKK members and parliament should be separate. These two can talk, but they cannot give instructions to each other.”

Fırat gave the example of the PKK’s attempt to seize parts of a number of cities in the mainly Kurdish southeast in 2015 that brought the largely rural guerrilla campaign to urban areas on a big scale for the first time in more than 30 years of fighting.

The Turkish military sent in tanks and pounded densely packed neighbourhoods with artillery to crush the attempted uprisings.

“The Kurdish movement put everyone into a deadlock as it brought the war into the very streets where our people live. The PKK has since not given an account of the warfare where so many civilians were killed,” Fırat said.

Together with Demirtaş, Fırat said he had travelled to the areas at the time to stop the fighting, but he said they were sidelined by the militants.

"Kurdish politics must be more democratic and wise from now on,” he said. “Politics doesn't accept outside intervention and this was the reason Kurdish politics came to a halt. Kurdish politics is broken."

https://ahvalnews.com/interview/afrin-c ... ician-says
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:06 pm

Defying Turkey, top U S general in Syria
vows to continue support for Kurds


On the ground in Syria, the top U.S. general in the coalition fighting the Islamic State group pledged on Wednesday that American troops would remain in the northern Syrian town of Manbij despite Ankara’s demands for a U.S. pullout.

“We’re here to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS is maintained in this area,” Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk said during a visit to U.S. forces in Manbij. ISIS is an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.

The U.S.-backed opposition Syrian Democratic Forces, led mainly by a Syrian Kurdish militia which Turkey is now fighting in Syria, liberated the town of Manbij from the Islamic State group in 2016.

Manbij was hailed as an early success story in the American-backed fight against IS, but is now the scene of escalating regional tensions on the heels of military victories against the extremists.

Funk’s visit came amid rising tensions between Turkey and the United States — NATO allies that have ended up on opposing sides in some aspects of the multi-layered war in Syria.

Today, a small U.S. base near Manbij — a cluster of a handful of tents, prefab housing units and American armored vehicles — reflects deepening American involvement in Syria. Since the ouster of IS from the border town, the U.S. has maintained a military presence there and regularly conducts patrols in the area.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Protection Units or YPG, made up the backbone of the fight against IS in Syria. But Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters “terrorists” and allied with Kurdish insurgents within Turkey, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The YPG.

Funk told reporters in Manbij that the U.S. would continue to support the SDF allies, despite tensions with Turkey and that a continued U.S. presence in Syria’s north is aimed at deescalating tensions.

“I don’t worry,” Funk said when asked about recent Turkish threats, “It’s not in my job description to worry, my job is to fight.”

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Manbij and renewed a threat to expand Ankara’s military offensive in Syria to this town.

“Why are you staying there (in Manbij)? Leave,” Erdogan said, referring to American troops. “We will come to return the lands to their real owners.”

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched a cross-border offensive into the northwestern enclave of Afrin to drive out the Syrian Kurdish militia from there and subsequently threatened to extend its operation to Manbij, over 100 kilometers (62 miles) to the east.

“I’m very confident in the (Syrian Democratic Forces) leadership,” Funk said.

“When nobody else could do it they retook Raqqa,” Funk added, referring to the former capital of the self-proclaimed IS caliphate in Syria. “I think that has earned them a seat at the table.”

The U.S.-backed forces retook Raqqa last October. The defeat marked a major blow to IS and was followed by a string of swift territorial victories in Syria that retook nearly all the territory the extremists once held. Pockets of IS fighters, however, remain in eastern Syria between the Euphrates River and the Iraqi border.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. would maintain a military presence in Syria after the conclusion of the fight against IS there, pledging that the Trump administration would not to repeat former President Barack Obama’s “mistake” when he withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011.

“There’s no way to tell” how long U.S. troops will need to remain in Syria, said Army Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, who heads the U.S.-led special operations task force fighting IS in Syria and Iraq.

“Right now the military role is clearly defined and right now that’s to support the SDF,” said Jarrard, who gathered with other American troops and commanders at the Manbij outpost.

American and Syrian Kurdish commanders in Manbij said that low-level clashes between Turkish-backed forces and the U.S.-backed fighters were a regular occurrence.

“Every 10 or 15 days there are some shots fired,” said Judie Ibrahim, an 18 year old fighter with the Manbij Military Council stationed at the outpost alongside American troops.

“But the clashes are very small, it doesn’t scare us,” he said, then added why the troops are not afraid: “It’s not because of the American presence ... it’s because we have God with us.”

Funk also downplayed the significance of the attacks, describing them as just “harassing.”

https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/defying ... -1.5805496
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:42 pm

Turkey Shelling Closes Schools in Afrin
Rikar Hussein Nawroz Rasho

Kurds in Western Kurdistan say Turkish bombings have barred more than 40,000 students from education as local officials in Afrin shut down schools following airstrikes in the city's countryside.

"We regrettably have decided to halt the second term of the school year due to the attacks on Afrin," Salaw Hamosharo, the spokeswoman of the Afrin Education Commission, told VOA.

"Over 300 primary, secondary and high schools have been closed down," she added.

The Turkish military denies it is hitting civilian targets and calls Kurdish accusations "disinformation campaigns" to slander its cross-border intervention.

"Religious, cultural, historical and archaeological sites, as well as public facilities, have not been chosen as targets by the Turkish Armed Forces since the very beginning of this operation," the Turkish military said in a statement posted on its Twitter account Wednesday.

The military said the offensive, code-named Operation Olive Branch, is aimed at the Kurdish militants "to protect the friendly and brotherly people of that area from the oppression of these terrorist groups."

Turkey started an air and ground offensive in northwestern Syria, in the city of Afrin, against a Kurdish group known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG. It says the operation is to protect its borders from the group, which has gained control over large swaths of land across northern Syria since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization, alleging the group is an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for decades.

But the U.S. denies those connections and sees the YPG as a key ally in the battle against the Islamic State. Washington has urged Turkey to show restraint and has warned that the assault on Afrin could hinder the war on IS.

YPG is the main fighting force of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which played a key role in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State terror group in the region.

NATO reaction

Some NATO member states also have raised concerns over Turkey's military operation in Afrin.

Speaking on local broadcaster BFM TV on Wednesday, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the foreign minister of France, accused Turkey of violating international law and said Ankara should not worsen the conflict.

"Ensuring the security of its borders does not mean killing civilians, and that should be condemned. In a dangerous situation in Syria, [Turkey] should not add war to war," he said.

According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based watchdog monitoring developments in Syria, fierce clashes and intensive Turkish aerial and artillery raids on Afrin have left at least 60 civilians dead and thousands more displaced.

Children killed

Afrin city's General Public Hospital told VOA that 26 children have been killed and 40 others injured from the Turkish shelling.

The observatory group said Turkish shelling Wednesday damaged a school in Maydanki village and a desalination plant in the Mateen area, about nine kilometers northeast of Afrin city. It said the damage endangered access to clean water for thousands of people in the region.

Officials of the Afrin Education Commission told VOA that two schools in Maydanki, one in Rajo village and another in Jindaresse were destroyed by Turkish shelling this week.

A VOA reporter on the ground in Afrin who visited one of the destroyed schools confirmed that the building has been damaged. However, VOA could not independently confirm if the damage was from Turkish attacks.

https://www.voanews.com/a/kurds-turkey- ... 45225.html
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:23 pm

Turkish helicopter shot down by Kurdish militia in Afrin
Reuters Staff

A Turkish army helicopter was shot down by Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters near the north Syrian town of Afrin, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday and the Turkish military said two soldiers on board the aircraft died. YPG sources separately confirmed the downing of the helicopter.

“One of our helicopters was downed just recently,” Erdogan said speaking to members of his AK Party (AKP) in Istanbul. “These things will happen, we are in a war... We might lose a helicopter, but they’ll pay the price for this.”

The Turkish military in a statement did not specify a reason for why the helicopter fell. It said two soldiers on board died and technical crews were investigating the crash.

The downed helicopter was the first officially confirmed loss of a Turkish aircraft over Syria since the start of the country’s long-running civil war.

The Turkish military in other statements said a total of five soldiers were killed and nine wounded on Saturday in clashes with mainly Kurdish forces near Afrin. It said it had killed 26 militants.

Ankara launched an air and ground offensive last month against Kurdish fighters in Syria’s Afrin region on its border, opening a new front in the multi-sided Syrian war.

Separately, the Turkish military in a statement said on Friday that the construction of a fifth military post near Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib had begun.

Under the deal reached with Tehran and Moscow to try to reduce fighting between pro-government forces and mainly Islamist insurgents in the northwest Syria, Turkey agreed to set up 12 observation posts in Idlib and neighboring provinces.

But the “de-escalation” in violence they were supposed to monitor has collapsed. In December, the Syrian army alongside Iranian-backed militias and heavy Russian air power launched a major offensive to take territory in Idlib province.

I am not convinced on this as US has bases in Ldlib

Idlib is one of the last main strongholds of rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, who have been driven from most of their bastions in Syria since Russia joined the war on the side of Assad’s government in 2015. Turkey has long been one of the main allies of the anti-Assad rebels.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul and Lisa Barrington in Beirut; Editing by Stephen Powell

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mide ... FU0M3?il=0
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:02 pm

Friend or foe? Assad quietly aids Syrian Kurds against Turkey
Laila Bassam, Tom Perry

ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria’s U.S. backed Kurds are getting indirect help from an unlikely source in their war against Turkey in the northwestern region of Afrin: President Bashar al-Assad.

Pro-government forces and Kurdish-led forces have fought each other elsewhere in Syria and Damascus opposes the Kurds’ demands for autonomy. But in Afrin they have a common enemy and a mutual interest in blocking Turkish advances.

Turkey, which regards the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin as a threat on its southern border, launched an assault on the region last month. Seeking to shield Afrin, the Kurds asked Damascus to send forces into action to defend the border.

The government shows no sign of doing so, but it is providing indirect help by allowing Kurdish fighters, civilians and politicians to reach Afrin through territory it holds, representatives of both sides told Reuters.

Assad stands to gain while doing little.

The arrival of reinforcements is likely to sustain Kurdish resistance, bog down the Turkish forces and prolong a conflict that is sapping the resources of military powers that rival him for control of Syrian territory.

For the United States, it is yet another complication in Syria’s seven-year-old war, and a reminder of how its Syrian Kurdish ally must at times make deals with Assad even as it builds military ties with the United States.

Lacking international protection, the Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria say they have reached agreements with Damascus to allow reinforcements to be sent to Afrin from other Kurdish-dominated areas -- 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,” Kino Gabriel, spokesman for the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said.

While the Kurds depend on Assad to reach Afrin, Kurdish sources say they also enjoy leverage over Damascus because it needs their cooperation to source grain and oil from areas of the northeast under Kurdish control.

A commander in the military alliance fighting in support of Assad said “the Kurds have no option but coordination with the regime” to defend Afrin.

“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.

TURKISH CAMPAIGN MOVES SLOWLY

The Turkish military is making slow gains nearly three weeks into the operation it calls “Olive Branch”.

Ankara views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a three-decade insurgency in Turkey and is regarded as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.

The United States has relied on the YPG as a vital ground component of its war against Islamic State, and has backed the group in other Kurdish-run regions in northern Syria along the border with Turkey.

But U.S. forces are not in Afrin, so have been unable to shield Afrin from the attack by Turkey, its NATO ally.

The Kurds meanwhile accuse Russia of giving a green light for the Turkish attack by withdrawing observers it deployed in Afrin last year.

The Afrin war marks another twist in the complicated story of relations between Assad and the Syrian Kurdish groups, spearheaded by the YPG, that have carved out autonomous regions in northern Syria since the war began in 2011.

The YPG controls nearly all of Syria’s frontier with Turkey. But Afrin is separated from the bigger Kurdish-controlled region further east by a 100 km-wide zone controlled by the Turkish military and its Syrian militia allies.

For much of the war, Damascus and the YPG have avoided confrontation, at times fighting common enemies, including the rebel groups that are now helping Turkey attack Afrin.

But tensions have mounted in recent months, with Damascus threatening to march into parts of eastern and northern Syria captured by the SDF with support from the U.S. led coalition.

Underlining that, pro-Syrian government forces attacked the SDF in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, drawing coalition air strikes overnight that killed more than 100 of the attackers, the coalition said.

“The regime has allowed the YPG to bring people into Afrin, while attacking it east of Euphrates (River). I think that is indicative of the state of relations right,” said Noah Bonsey, International Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst on Syria.

He added: “There is still a significant gap between the YPG and regime positions on the future of northeastern Syria.”

FIGHTING FOR AFRIN

The main Syrian Kurdish groups remain wedded to their vision of a Syria where they enjoy autonomy in a form of federalism that is at odds with Assad’s determination to recover all Syria.

Each side has allowed the other to maintain footholds in its territory. In Kurdish-held Qamishli, the government still controls the airport. In the Sheikh Maqsoud district of Aleppo, a government city, Kurdish security forces patrol the streets.

Scores of Kurds from Sheikh Maqsoud have gone to Afrin to support the fight, Kurdish officials there said. The short journey requires movement through areas held by the government or its Iran-backed Shi‘ite militia allies.

“Of course people went from Sheikh Maqsoud - in the hundreds - to bear arms and defend Afrin,” said Badran Himo, a Kurdish official from Sheikh Maqsoud.

“Around 10 of them were martyred (killed),” he told Reuters as Kurdish security forces held a rally to commemorate one of the dead.

Earlier this week, witnesses say a civilian convoy of hundreds of cars drove to Afrin from other Kurdish-held areas in a show of solidarity.

The Syrian government has ignored appeals by the Kurdish authorities to guard the Syrian border at Afrin.

“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.”

Writing by Tom Perry, Editing by Timothy Heritage

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mide ... SKBN1FV078
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:37 pm

Assad turns to old ally PKK, quietly aids YPG against Turkey

In its war against Turkey in northwestern Syria's Afrin region, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dominated by PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG), is getting indirect help from an unlikely source: Bashar al-Assad.

Pro-regime and SDF forces have fought each other elsewhere in Syria, while Damascus has long opposed Kurdish demands for autonomy, even denying granting them citizenship.

The Democratic Unity Party (PYD) in Syria, just like its main organization the PKK, claims that it represents Kurds as well as other ethnic groups over an ideology dubbed as the "democratic confederalism." However, the group, through its armed wing YPG, pressures political opponents and changes demographics in the region as it forces local Arabs and Turkmens to flee.

But in Afrin, both groups have a common enemy and a mutual interest in blocking Turkish advances.

Syria and Turkey have a number of historical problems in their bilateral relations. The Syrian ruling elite, whether monarchist or Baathist, has never accepted Turkey's annexation of southern Hatay (Antioch) province from French-mandate Syria. The two countries are also at odds over water rights on the Euphrates River. While Turkey was a NATO member throughout the Cold War, Syria shifted to the Soviet axis, faced with an increasing Israeli threat after 1956.

Despite its abuses against its own Kurds, the Baath regime started backing the PKK shortly after its formation to contribute to the balance of power with its stronger northern neighbor. PKK founder and leader Abdullah Öcalan, before his capture in 1999, ran the terrorist group from Damascus between 1979 and 1998, until finally Turkey threatened Syria with war. The terrorist group freely operated safe houses and camps throughout Syria, as well as in the Syrian-occupied Beqaa Valley.

It wasn't until the early 2000s and a thaw in relations with Turkey that the Baath regime completely forced the PKK out of the country, which moved to northern Iraq from then on. The regime even crushed a PYD-linked riot in the city of Qamishli in 2004, killing dozens.

However, with the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, the regime handed over much of the border region to PYD and its armed wing YPG.

Turkey, which regards the YPG in Afrin as a threat on its southern border, launched Operation Olive Branch on the region last month. Seeking to shield Afrin, the YPG asked Damascus to send forces into action to defend the border.

The regime shows no sign of doing so, but is providing indirect help by allowing YPG fighters, civilians and politicians to reach Afrin through territory it holds, representatives of both sides told Reuters.

Assad stands to gain while doing little. The arrival of reinforcements is likely to sustain YPG resistance, bog down the Turkish forces and prolong a conflict that is sapping the resources of military powers that rival him for control of Syrian territory.

Lacking international protection, YPG forces in northern Syria say they have reached agreements with Damascus to allow reinforcements to be sent to Afrin from other Kurdish-dominated areas, Kobani and the Jazeera region, both handed over to the PYD by the Assad regime in 2012 after the outbreak of the civil war.

"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," Kino Gabriel, spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said.

While the YPG depends on Assad to reach Afrin, PYD sources say they also enjoy leverage over Damascus because it needs their cooperation to source grain and oil from areas of the northeast under PYD control.

A commander in the military alliance fighting in support of Assad said "the Kurds have no option but coordination with the regime" to defend Afrin.

"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.

For the United States, it is yet another complication in Syria's 7-year-old war, and a reminder of how its ally YPG must at times make deals with Assad even as it builds military ties with the United States.

For much of the war, Damascus and the YPG have avoided confrontation, at times fighting common enemies, including the opposition groups that are now helping Turkish troops in Afrin.

But tensions have mounted in recent months, with Damascus threatening to march into parts of eastern and northern Syria captured by the SDF with support from the U.S.-led coalition.

Underlining that, pro-Syrian government forces attacked the SDF in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, drawing coalition air strikes overnight that killed more than 100 of the attackers, the coalition said.

"The regime has allowed the YPG to bring people into Afrin, while attacking it east of the Euphrates [River]. I think that is indicative of the state of relations right now," said Noah Bonsey, International Crisis Group's Senior Analyst on Syria.

He added: "There is still a significant gap between the YPG and regime positions on the future of northeastern Syria."

Fighting for Afrin

The main Syrian Kurdish groups, now represented only by the PYD and other PKK-affiliated groups after alternative groups were expelled by the terrorists, remain wedded to their vision of a Syria where they enjoy autonomy in a form of federalism that is at odds with Assad's determination to recover all Syria.

Each side has allowed the other to maintain footholds in its territory. In YPG-held Qamishli, the regime still controls the airport. In the Sheikh Maqsoud district of Aleppo, a regime-held city since 2016, YPG forces patrol the streets.

Scores of Kurds from Sheikh Maqsoud have gone to Afrin to support the fight, PYD officials there said. The short journey requires movement through areas held by the regime or its Iran-backed Shiite militia allies.

"Of course people went from Sheikh Maqsoud - in the hundreds - to bear arms and defend Afrin," said Badran Himo, a PYD official from Sheikh Maqsoud.

"Around 10 of them were martyred (killed)," he told Reuters as YPG forces held a rally to commemorate one of the dead.

Earlier this week, witnesses say a civilian convoy of hundreds of cars drove to Afrin from other PYD-held areas in a show of solidarity. However, later reports from local, Turkish and international news outlets stated that hundreds of armed fighters were among the convoy.

Turkish campaign making slow gains

The Turkish military is making slow gains nearly three weeks into the Operation Olive Branch, citing significant civilian presence in the region, in addition to mountainous terrain.

Ankara views the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which has fought a three-decade insurgency in Turkey and is regarded as a terrorist group by the U.S. and the European Union.

The U.S. has backed the YPG on the claim that it is a vital ground component of its war against Daesh, and has supported the group in other regions in northern Syria along the border with Turkey.

But U.S. forces are not in Afrin, so have been unable to shield Afrin from the attack by Turkey, its NATO ally.

The YPG meanwhile accuses Russia of giving a green light for the Turkish attack by withdrawing observers it deployed in Afrin last year.

The YPG controls nearly all of Syria's frontier with Turkey. But Afrin is separated from the SDF-controlled region further east by a 100 kilometers-wide zone controlled by the Turkish military and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters backed by Turkey.

Since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch, the Turkish military and FSA have captured 49 different strategic areas, including a town center, 32 villages, three rural areas and 13 hills, from the PKK-affiliated terrorist groups.

https://www.dailysabah.com/syrian-crisi ... nst-turkey
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:49 pm

Murat Karayilan: Erdogan and Al-Qaeda forces failed in Afrin

In an interview with Turkish Service, Murat Karayilan said that the attack on Afrin is a total failure of Erdogan and Al-Qaeda forces. Karayilan also criticized Russian and Syrian regimes for giving green light to the Turkish invasion operation.

According to Karayilan, the US led international coalition approved the barbaric Turkish attack on Afrin, although some members of the coalition didn’t want to.

Karayilan urged international powers, especially US and Russia, to draw a line between themselves and Turkish colonialism and genocidal politics.

Here are some excerpts from Karayilan’s interview:

    “The fact is, with Erdogan’s statement they planned to finish the invasion of Afrin within one week. These plans are all foiled. The Turkish army and Al-Qaeda forces didn’t make any advances although 19 days passed since the start of the operation. Their most distant advancement is about 5 kilometres deep. In Burseya mountain they only advanced about 150 metres. And after that they said ‘we are entering Afrin’, ‘not much left’. But this is not true.”

    “The casualties of Al-Qaeda gangs are about 350 and Turkish army lost about 200 soldiers. But they are hiding this from Turkey’s public. Turkish army releases statements every day but these are only funny. A fighting army cannot rely so much on lies”.

    “The losses of YPG have not even reached 100.”

    “The Turkish state couldn’t enter Afrin and it’s already talking about entering Manbij. If they are that brave first enter Afrin then talk about Manbij. This army hasn’t invaded Afrin. What they say about Manbij is nothing more than a bluff.”

    “Erdogan regime and Turkish press are trying to cover the Turkish army’s failure in Afrin. They try to hide this fact from Turkish society by using all they have. The fact is Turkish army and its Al-Qaeda allies have failed. They didn’t succeed by any means.”
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:36 pm

MPs hail defense of Afrin, will report findings in Kurdistan Reg

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Speaking to reporters in Afrin on Monday, a visiting delegation of Kurdish MPs hailed the ‘resilience’ in the face of the major military attack, while promising to report their findings to diplomats in the Kurdistan Region.

“The victories of Afrin have made all of us proud… This has been for the first time in the history that a nation without any backing and that does not receive any support from giant and powerful states, have resisted for 24 continued days against a powerful and fully-equipped state,” a PUK delegate, Abbas Fatah, told reporters.

Spread across Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran, Kurds have united for their most-western, stateless brethren.

“This is a source of pride for our nation. This should become a lesson for all of us in all the other parts of Kurdistan to cast aside our internal rivalries and issues,” he said.

Turkey has used German-manufactured Leopard tanks and modern jets to target the isolated canton.

Abbas hailed the defense as “the sign of unity and self-confidence of our nation” standing against one of the world’s largest militaries.

“Only our force can protect us and our nation. If united, we will remain victorious,” he asserted. “We are ready to provide all assistance to them; material and moral.”

The Gorran (Change Movement) delegate Sherko Hama Amin mentioned they would report what have they seen.

He said Turkish artillery shells and airstrikes have “destroyed the economic infrastructure of Afrin and burned orchards and groves of civilians.”

Amin added that they would do their best to take all necessary measures to help stop the attack, including reporting their findings to the Kurdistan Region’s parliament, diplomatic missions, NGOs, the European Union and other countries in order to “shatter this siege on Afrin.”

He strongly slammed human rights organizations and the international community for their silence on “the incursions going on in Afrin.”

The delegation of Kurdish MPs arrived in the capital city of the Kurdish canton on Sunday evening.

They hail from five different parties.

The UK-based conflict monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported four civilians killed in Afrin canton by Turkish strikes on Sunday, bringing the total to 74 since Turkey launched the operation on January 20. Kurdish officials have claimed the death toll is at least as high as 160.

Turkey denies they target civilians, claiming that they have made so little progress in order to save lives.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/120220182
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:01 am

KRG delegation arrives in Afrin as Turkey offensive softens Kurdish split
Amberin Zaman

Kurdish disunity is one of the main reasons the world’s largest people without a country, still does not have one

The Iraqi Kurds’ failed referendum on independence in September, which saw one group cooperate with Baghdad against the other, was the most recent and damning example of how a lust for power can trump the collective Kurdish good. So when a delegation of Iraqi Kurds from rival political parties arrived in the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin to show solidarity with their cousins facing a Turkish siege, a groundswell of euphoria erupted.

Asiya Abdullah, the former co-chair of the Democratic Unity Party (PYD), declared, “The visit by members of the Kurdistan Parliament sent an important message to the people of Afrin and all the people of Kurdistan. … Today, Afrin’s resistance against the occupation of Turkey and their rebels is fierce. The assault on Afrin is an assault on the people of Kurdistan, and Afrin’s victory will be that of all of Kurdistan.”

Her comments were reported by Kurdistan 24, one of the few media outlets to make it into Afrin. It's owned by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)'s muscular intelligence chief, Masrour Barzani. Kurdistan 24 journalists would have had to cross through territory controlled by Syrian regime forces and their Iranian allies to reach Afrin, a journey that Western journalists, Americans in particular, would hardly risk.

On Jan. 30, the Iraqi Kurdish parliament held a special session on Afrin and condemned Turkey’s offensive against the PYD’s military arm, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has entered its 24th day. The parliament called for an immediate halt to Turkish aggression and pledged to step up humanitarian assistance to their besieged brethren via the Fish-Khabur border crossing, saying, “We praise the resistance of the men and women in Afrin and Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan] and wish them success.” The session was convened at the request of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which is led by his father, Massoud, the former president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, and that of the opposition Change (Gorran) Movement. But this outburst of cross-border Kurdish unity may come at a cost.

Until recently, Turkey viewed the KDP, the dominant party in Iraqi Kurdistan, as its top ally against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the armed group that first fought for Kurdish independence and later for Kurdish self-rule inside Turkey since 1984. The YPG was birthed by the PKK and pledges fealty to its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan. In Turkey’s eyes, any support for the YPG is tantamount to support for the PKK, and that is how it is likely to view Iraqi Kurdish gestures over Afrin.

Although Turkey fiercely opposed the referendum on Kurdish independence, it did not seal its border with the KRG, the Iraqi Kurds’ sole conduit to the West. Nor did it turn off a pipeline carrying Iraqi Kurdish crude to export terminals on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Now that the Iraqi Kurds have lost control of oil fields in Kirkuk, Turkey is even more critical to their economic survival. So why are they poking Turkey in the eye?

There are several reasons for the apparent shift. Amid the sharpening economic woes that have beset the KRG in the wake of the referendum, Kurdish nationalism serves as a useful distraction for an increasingly disgruntled populace. Also, the solidarity felt by ordinary Kurds for their Syrian cousins is real. For many, the PKK and the YPG have displayed great valor against the Islamic State and now Turkey. And the sober lifestyle embraced by PKK commanders holed up in the mountains stands in stark contrast with the opulence — and corruption — engulfing some of their Iraqi Kurdish peers.

Mohammed Salih, an expert on religious extremism in Iraqi Kurdistan and an Al-Monitor contributor, said in an interview, “The YPG’s ability to fight and resist Turkey and [Syrian Arab rebel] groups in Afrin is taking on huge significance for average Kurds in light of the peshmerga's inability last year to put up a fight in Kirkuk and other parts of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.” Salih was referring to the retreat of Iraqi Kurdish fighters known as peshmerga from the contested oil-rich province in the face of advancing Iraqi troops and pro-Iranian militias.

Elections for a new parliament and president are supposed to take place this year. “Iraqi Kurdish political parties want to capitalize on the sympathy felt for Afrin,” said Bilal Wahab, a Wagner fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a conservative DC think tank.

But there are more subtle dynamics at play. Since the referendum, Turkish leaders have shunned formal contact with the Iraqi Kurds, including Nechirvan Barzani, the KRG prime minister. He was long viewed as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s go-to Iraqi Kurdish politician, especially for energy deals. Erdogan is keeping his distance from the Iraqi Kurds in a sop to his far-right nationalist allies, whose backing will be key in Turkey's 2019 presidential elections.

The KRG’s relations with the United States have also gone south because of Washington’s support for Baghdad during and after the referendum. Iraqi Kurdish leaders reckon it's time to recalibrate.

Rojava provides a back door to Iraqi Kurdish relevance, not least because the United States relies heavily on the KDP-controlled Fish-Khabur border crossing to move weapons and other equipment to more than 2,000 special operations forces and their YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces allies in northeastern Syria.

Ceng Sangic is the coordinator of the Kurdish Studies Program at the Moshe Dayan Center in Tel Aviv. He contended in an interview with Al-Monitor that the Iraqi Kurds’ “main focus is on rebuilding relations with Iraq” because the annual share of the Iraqi budget that the KRG has received — and periodically been denied — over the years is what helped build up its economy. However, since assuming the de facto leadership of the KRG after his uncle Massoud Barzani stepped down as president, Nechirvan Barzani has also sought to restore the “pre-2014 status quo for the KRG when it enjoyed good relations with Iraq, Iran, Turkey, the US, the PKK and the Syrian Kurds as well.”

Sagnic was referring to the period before the Islamic State overran much of Iraq, allowing the Iraqi Kurds to fill the vacuum and win control over territories that the central government and the KRG claim for its own, including Kirkuk. Nechirvan Barzani’s recent trip to Tehran is part of this rebalancing, which may also help spook Ankara and Washington into paying the Iraqi Kurds more attention again.

One very big concession made by the KRG to Tehran was to tell Iranian Kurdish militias to withdraw from scattered mountain posts along the Iran-Iraq border, from which they launch sporadic attacks against Iranian regime forces.

A prominent Kurdish-Iranian politician told Al-Monitor on condition that he not be identified that KRG officials had approached various Kurdish-Iranian groups based in Iraqi Kurdistan asking that they pull back from the Iranian border. He predicted that they would eventually all be forced to comply. The real function of the posts is to collect “taxes” from smugglers bringing liquor and other contraband into Iran. The PKK, which has a larger presence on the border, will be able to pocket all the revenue for itself.

Ranj Alaaldin is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, Doha. He cautioned in emailed remarks to Al-Monitor, “Turkey runs the risk of unifying otherwise divided Kurdish groups, and the longer the current operation in Afrin continues, the more alienated Ankara becomes from the KDP and [its main rival] the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, both of whom have historically cooperated with Turkey to combat the PKK.” Alaaldin continued, “That would enhance Iran’s standing with the KRG and weaken Ankara’s, but everything could quickly change if the Afrin operation and Turkey’s conflict with the PKK more generally spills over into Iraqi Kurdistan.”

Informed sources briefing Al-Monitor on strict condition of anonymity warned there is a real risk that Turkey will escalate its fight against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan. The sources said Turkey and Baghdad were discussing a possible Turkish operation to dislodge the PKK from Sinjar. The area serves as a bridgehead for PKK fighters traveling from their bases on the Iraq-Iran border to Syria. In exchange, Turkey would comply with Baghdad’s long-running demand to withdraw its troops from Bashiqa, near Mosul. The PKK is reportedly already bracing for just such an attack, digging tunnels and generally fortifying its defenses there.

The same sources said the United States also wants the PKK out of Sinjar and would likely share intelligence for a Turkish operation provided that Baghdad was on board. Washington sees it as a free way to ease tensions with Turkey over its continued alliance with the YPG. The sources speculated that the United States may also believe that disrupting the PKK's access to Rojava may weaken its hold over the YPG. Until recently, the KRG and above all the Barzanis would have wanted the PKK ejected as well because they were infuriated by the PKK’s growing influence in Sinjar, which they consider to be their own dominion.

But when Iraqi troops rolled into Sinjar in their post-referendum push, Iraqi Kurdish calculations changed, Wahab said. “KDP support for a Turkish operation against the PKK in Sinjar is no longer a given,” he said.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/origin ... ation.html
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:21 am

Hundreds of Turkish Army elite urban warfare troops
prepare to storm Kurdish stronghold in Afrin, Western Kurdistan

Andrew Illingworth

The Turkish Army has deployed elite troops – reportedly specialized in urban warfare – to storm a fortress town held by Kurdish forces in the Afrin region of Western Kurdistan.

According to reports that have been emerging since Tuesday, the Turkish Army is deploying a company of several hundred elite urban warfare troop to storm the Kurdish-held stronghold of Janadaris in Afrin, Western Kurdistan.

The exact designation of the Turkish troops that are to lead the attack on Janadaris, or the outfit they belonging to has not been disclosed.

At the present time, Turkey-led forces control most of the countryside west of Janadaris and have moved to within several kilometers of the town’s gates via this direction.

Should the Turkish Army and allied militias take Janadaris from Kurdish forces, it will represent the first major victory of Ankara’s Olive Branch operation in Afrin.

To this end, it is yet to be seen whether or not Kurdish paramilitary fighters choose to make a stand to defend Janadaris – one of the largest towns in the Afrin region.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/hu ... ias-afrin/
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Benny » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:20 am

Very interesting articles- thank you for posting Anthea.

It’s a bit difficult to tell but it seems like the offensive has been slowed down, right? At least the operation is not running as smoothly as the Turkish side would have hoped?

Interesting to read about the contacts made between the fighters in Afrin and the KRG. A bit suprising though that this didn’t happen sooner. :shock:

A nice weekend to you all!

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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:57 pm

Syrian Kurdish official: deal for Syrian army to enter Afrin
Ellen Francis

Syrian Kurdish forces and the Damascus government have reached an agreement for the Syrian army to enter the Afrin region to help repel a Turkish offensive, a senior Kurdish official said on Sunday.

Badran Jia Kurd, an adviser to the Kurdish-led administration in north Syria, told Reuters army troops would deploy along some border positions and could enter the region within the next two days.

The agreement underscores the increasingly tangled situation in northern Syria, driven by a web of rivalries and alliances among Kurdish forces, the Syrian government, rebel groups, Turkey, the United States and Russia.

The complex relationship between the Damascus government and the Syrian Kurds, which each holds more territory than any other side in the war, will be pivotal in how the war unfolds.

Turkey launched an offensive in Afrin last month against the Kurdish YPG militia, viewing it as a terrorist group with links to an armed insurrection in Turkey.

Ankara’s NATO ally the United States has armed the YPG as part of an alliance it supports in Syria against Islamic State. But while Washington has a military presence in the much larger area of Syria the YPG and its allies control further east, it has not given any support to the YPG in Afrin.

“We can cooperate with any side that lends us a helping hand in light of the barbaric crimes and the international silence,” Jia Kurd said.

Although Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the YPG have mostly avoided direct conflict during the war, there have been occasional armed clashes and they espouse utterly different visions for Syria’s future.

While both have at times suggested a long-term agreement between them might be possible, Assad has more recently said he wants to take back the whole country.

Jia Kurd said the agreement reached with Damascus was purely military and that no wider political arrangements had been made yet.

“When it comes to the political and administrative matters in the region, it will be agreed upon with Damascus in the later stages through direct negotiations and discussions,” he said.

OPPOSITION

He added that there was opposition to the deal that could prevent it being implemented: “We don’t know to what extent these understandings will last because there are sides that are not satisfied and want to make (the understandings) fail.”

Turkey began its direct intervention in northern Syria in August 2016, backing Syrian rebel groups in a military offensive to push Islamic State from its border and to stop the YPG linking Afrin to the other areas it controls further east.

It has said it could expand its assault to those areas and last week renewed its demands for the YPG to pull out of all areas of Syria west of the Euphrates.

Since October, it has also had a role in the rebel-held Idlib province that borders Afrin as part of a diplomatic process pushed by Assad’s ally Russia via talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.

A Kurdish political official familiar with the negotiations for the Syrian army to enter Afrin said it was possible Russia would object to the agreement as complicating its own diplomatic efforts with Turkey.

Reporting By Ellen Francis; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Adrian Croft

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mide ... SKCN1G20QB
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