The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and allied factions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have brought military reinforcements to the northern countryside of Aleppo province to impede the Turkish progress towards Afrin district, military sources reported on Wednesday.
“The YPG and SDF today deployed more forces and armoured vehicles in northern Aleppo,” a YPG officer told ARA News.
“The Kurdish people in Afrin region have suffered a lot under heavy bombardment by Turkey and allied Islamists,” the officer said.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units continue to fight against Turkey-backed groups south of Azaz and in the Afrin district in Aleppo province.
“We will respond to any Turkish attacks on Rojava-Northern Syria. The Turkish troops and Turkey-backed Islamists will be a main target for our forces in the area,” the Kurdish officer told ARA News.
The step comes after the Turkish authorities increased its military presence in northwestern Syria, sending troops, vehicles and equipment to support its operations against Kurdish-held areas.
The Turkish move came despite US warnings about any actions that may hinder the Kurdish-led fight against ISIS in northern Syria.
The YPG is leading the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the war on ISIS. The SDF is currently engaged in heavy clashes with ISIS militants in Raqqa city–the group’s de facto capital in Syria.
Turkey launched an offensive in northern Syria in August last year, sending tanks and warplanes across the border to support Syrian rebels fighting both ISIS and the YPG.
It helped them carve out a big portion of northern Syria, helping ensure the YPG and its allies could not link the 400-km (250-mile) stretch of territory they hold in the north and northeast with the pocket they hold west of Azaz.
Turkey considers the YPG as a Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been in fight with the Turkish authorities for decades.
A US-led coalition spokesperson told ARA News that for the United States there is a difference between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“We disagree with the Turkish position that the YPG and the PKK are the same organization. The Coalition recognizes the threat the PKK poses to Turkey, but Turkey cannot pursue that fight at the expense of our common fight against terrorists that threaten us all,” he said, in reference to the war on ISIS jihadists.
“We call on all countries in the region to remain focused on the fight to defeat ISIS, which is the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security,” the coalition’s official told ARA News.
“This is a message from the United States to Turkey to stop attacking the YPG, since they fear this could threaten the anti-ISIS Raqqa operation,” local Kurdish journalist Heybar Othman told ARA News.
Reporting by: Hozan Mamo | Source: ARA News
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