Dead bodies of Kurdish civilians killed in attack by Syrian Islamist rebels in Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo. Photo: Activists
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ERBIL – Dozens of civilians, including women and children, were killed on Tuesday in attacks by Arab rebel groups on a Kurdish neighborhood in Syria’s northern Aleppo city, officials and activists told ARA News.
The Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Mqsoud in Aleppo –held by fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG)– was exposed to heavy shelling by Islamist rebels on Tuesday.
At least 70 civilians were reported dead in the bombardment of Sheikh Maqsoud.
“The situation in Sheikh Maqsoud is very bad, the attacks of these rebel groups are continuing, and most of the casualties are women and children,” Kurdish affairs analyst Mutlu Civiroglu told ARA News.
“These groups want to take control of Sheikh Maqsoud at any cost. They are indiscriminately shelling the neighborhood and killing civilians,” Civiroglu said.
“The sons of Hafez al-Assad who have removed the clothing of Arabism and put on the clothing of religion [in reference to Syrian Islamist rebels] are aiming their hatred and filth at the heads of the civilians,” Sharvan Darwish, a military commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told ARA News. “The number of the martyrs has reached 70 civilians.”
The attacks have also led to more rifts between the Syrian Kurdish political parties. The Kurdish National Council (KNC) is a member of the Syrian opposition, and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has accused the Syrian opposition of backing the attacks on Sheikh Maqsoud.
“It’s necessary for the KNC to explain this, because it says the rebels are not radicals,” PYD official Nawaf Xelil told ARA News. “This is a Turkish strategy.”
However, the KNC previously condemned rebel attacks on civilians in Aleppo. “The KNC has earlier condemned Nusra’s attacks on Sheikh Maqsoud and the killing of civilians,” Zara Salih, a member of the Political Committee of the Yekîtî Party told ARA News.
Kurds have demanded the Syrian opposition forces to condemn the attacks, since some of the rebel groups attacking the Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud are part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
“YPG had already taken control on Sheikh Maqsoud, but al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham want to retake this area to open and control the way towards Afrin city north of Aleppo,” Salih said. “It’s a critical situation in this area.”
Speaking to ARA News, Aymen Jawad al-Tamimi, a researcher with the Middle East Forum, said that Sheikh Maqsoud clashes might be related to the territorial competition between the Kurds and Islamist rebel groups.
“Although the exact spark of the clashes is not certain, but it could be related to the [Kurdish-led] SDF attempts to cut off a rebel supply route in northern Aleppo in a bid to expand west of Afrin,” he added.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News