Syrian rebels of Jaish al-Islam. File photo
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ERBIL – Islamist rebel leadership of the Aleppo Conquest Operations Room asked for the evacuation of civilians from the Kurdish Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood in Aleppo, after massacring Kurds by indiscriminate shelling.
“With the YPG [Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units] militias continuously following the policy of using human shields and other aggressive policies against the Revolutionaries by attacking the Castello road supported by the regime aircraft, there is an urgent need to expel these militias from the Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhood,” the Aleppo operations room said in a statement, suggesting they would help evacuating civilians from the area until the conflict is over. The rebel leadership promised “[…] to provide civilians with a secure evacuation and crossing to safe areas away from clashes with keeping pledges to secure their return to their houses after the end of military operations in this sector.”
Kurdish officials see the statements as an admission by the rebel groups that they kill civilians and an attempt by Turkish-backed groups to ethnically cleanse Aleppo from Kurds.
Speaking to ARA News, Kurdish official Idris Nassan said: “This statement [by Syrian Islamist rebels] is a clear evidence of deliberate cleansing actions against Kurds.”
“They struggle to make Syria an Islamic State, not a democratic one of what the demonstrators went out for as the beginning of the uprising. Protection of civilians is the very essential duty of the special international organizations and pro-democratic countries. An urgent action must be taken against those radical groups to stop their assaults against civilians and bring stability and peace to the region.”
“Actions carried out by these groups put them on the list of terrorist groups clearly,” he stated.
“Their goal is to empty Sheikh Maqsoud [neighborhood] from Kurds,” Nidal Hassan, a Kurdish activist from Aleppo told ARA News. “These groups are supported by Turkish intelligence, and took control of Al Rai [border crossing].”
“They want to kill the civilians in Sheikh Maqsoud, and now they say they want to protect the civilians in Sheikh Maqsoud, why they didn’t do this from the beginning of the conflict?” Nassan asked. “They issue this statement to cover up their crimes and massacres in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood during the last two months, and the use of internationally banned chemical weapons in the neighbourhood,” he added.
Last week, the Jaish al-Islam [Islam Army] said in a statement that they would punish a field commander for using weapons ‘he was not authorized to use’, thus admitting they have killed civilians, which resulted in condemnation of even the Istanbul-based Syrian opposition.
However, Captain Islam Alloush from the Jaish al-Islam told ARA News, this does not mean they used chemical weapons. “The unauthorized weapons were grad missiles which are not suitable for guerilla warfare, which is not internationally banned, as what the regime and its agents are trying to promote,” he said.
The Castello road is the only road into Aleppo for the opposition, but at the same time the only road connecting the Kurdish Sheik Maqsoud neighbourhood to the Kurdish city of Efrin [Afrin]. After clashes erupted last February between rebels and the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces, fierce clashes have been took place over control of the neighborhood of Sheik Maqsoud and the Castello road, which has so far killed at least 85 Kurdish civilians since 16 February.
A group of seven Syrian human rights organizations, including the Kurdish Organization for Human Rights in Syria (DAD), last Thursday strongly condemned the indiscriminate killing of civilians. “We declare our full solidarity with the families of the victims,” the organizations said. “We condemn the international silence in the face of these massacres and call on the US-Russian Joint Commission for the Ceasefire to investigate these violations.”
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News