Main Syrian Islamist rebel group punishes field commander for massacring Kurds in Aleppo

Dead bodies of Kurdish civilians killed in attack by Syrian Islamist rebels in Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo. Photo: Activists

ARA News 

ERBIL – Captain Islam Alloush, spokesperson for the Islam Army [Jaish al-Islam – key Syrian Islamist rebel group], said in a press statement on Friday that they will punish a field commander for killing civilians in the Kurdish neighbourhood of Sheik Maqsoud in Aleppo last week.

“During these confrontations, one of the field commanders of Jaish al-Islam in Aleppo used weapons he was not authorized to use in this kind of confrontations, which is considered a violation of the internal regulations of Jaish al-Islam,” Alloush said. “This commander has been referred to the Military Justice to receive the proper punishment set forth in the Military Penal Code of Jaish al-Islam,” he added.

The Syrian Kurds see the statement as an admission that the group has used banned chemical agents.

However, the Islamist rebel group said they will continue to fight the Kurds in Aleppo. “The adoption of this procedure stems from our concern for the lives of civilians we pledge to protect since the beginning of the revolution. This does not change anything regarding our military strategy in fighting the PYD’s militia, along with our brothers in the rest of the military formations in Aleppo,” the statement said.

The Kurds also accused the Islamist rebel group of using banned chemical agents in their attacks on populated areas in Sheikh Maqsoud of Aleppo. Meanwhile, the Russian government has asked for the exclusion of the Islam Army (Jaish al-Islam) from the upcoming Geneva talks.

Speaking to ARA News, Kurdish official Idris Nassan said: “Now it is clear that these armed groups have chemical weaponry that they can use in a lager scale, and this is very dangerous. It is an evidence that not just the regime was using chemicals, Jaish al-Islam may have also used them in Damascus suburbs before. So I think Russia is going to check which country provides them with these chemicals and think that Turkey will be accused.” 

Leader of the Jaish al-Islam Mohammed Alloush is one of the main opposition negotiators in the Geneva talks.

Kurdish leadership of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) have said they informed both Russia and the US about the violations by the rebel groups to the 27-February ceasefire. 

The Kurdish neighborhood of Sheik Maqsoud has been under attack by rebel groups since February 16. On March 24th and April 7th, the armed groups shelled Sheikh Maqsoud with homemade mortars, gas cylinders and rockets which reportedly contained chemicals, according to local and official sources. In total 85 Kurdish civilians have been killed and 620 injured as a result of the attacks. The explosions resulted in a yellow smoke, which led to breathing problems, dizziness, and eye irritation. 

The Kurdish neighbourhood was bombed at least three times with chemical weapons in only 24 hours on Friday, local sources and eyewitnesses confirmed.  

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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