Kurds deny handover of SDF-held areas to Syrian regime

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Kurdish fighters of the YPG who joined the SDF ranks in fight against Islamists in Aleppo. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the allied Jaysh al-Thuwar group denied media reports that they handed over Tal Rifaat town and neighbouring villages in northern Aleppo to the Syrian government.

“YPG hands over Tal Rifaat and neighboring villages to the regime. YPG took the villages from rebels in February 2016,” Abdurahman Harkoush, a former spokesperson for the Army of Islam group, said on 10 February.

Also, the pro-Syrian government Al Masdar News reported that six towns in northern Aleppo decided to reconcile with the government after mediation by the Russian army.

The pro-Turkish government news agency Anadolu claimed on Sunday that the Kurds and the Syrian government discussed the possibility to work against the Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield operation in al-Bab city, and that during a Russian sponsored meeting in Latakia, it was decided to host the Syrian government flags over the six towns to stop ‘advances of Operation Euphrates Shield Forces’.

“I am present now in Tel Rifaat, and I want to reassure everyone that the towns of Tel Rifaat, Sheikh Eisa, Ein Duqna, Mennag and the Menage airport are completely under SDF control,” Abu Araj, an SDF officer, told ARA News.

“There is no flag raised in these areas but that of the SDF,” Araj stressed.

The SDF-affiliated Jaysh al-Thuwar also denied the reports.

“The claims stating that many towns and villages such as Tel Rifaat in the north of Aleppo were handed over to the regime forces two days ago are untrue. This situation is only the result of an agreement between Russia, Iran and Turkey,” the group said in an official statement.

“Turkey, in line with its politics and interests, claims that the Syrian regime forces have come together in the north of Aleppo with representatives of opposition groups in Syria. The gangs are trying to stage new theatre plays on the land we saved with the efforts of our martyrs,” it said.

“The only thing right in this regard is that the Syrian regime forces have handed over al-Bab to Turkish troops and their gangs,” Jaysh al-Thuwar said.
Moreover, the SDF-affiliated group said they will continue to capture territory in northern Aleppo.

“We know that the Syrian regime forces did not fire a single bullet against Turkish troops and their gangs. We promise our people, we will continue the struggle until the Shahba [Northern Aleppo] region is liberated from the gangs and occupying forces. We will protect the efforts of our martyrs,” the group concluded.

On Sunday, the Turkey-backed Tel Rifaat Military Council said that it hit the YPG in Tel Rifaat town with mortar shells and artillery.

Last week, Turkey-backed rebels and the Turkish army shelled Kurdish positions in Afrin district [Efrin] northwest of Aleppo. The Turkish troops have started to enter areas near Afrin since February 10 with trucks and cranes to build walls on the borderline with Syria.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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