Kurdish female fighters of the Women Protection Units (YPJ) securing a checkpoint in Hasakah countryside in northeastern Syria. Photo: ARA News
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QAMISHLO – The Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) group of Jaish al-Shamal claimed responsibility for the killing of alleged Kurdish officials Shirin and her assistant Ziyad Jafar on Monday, which caused a wave of outrage among Syrian Kurds. The two were allegedly part of the negotiations concerning the handing over of 66 rebels that were killed in a failed attack on the Kurdish-held Ayn Daqnaq, in the countryside of Aleppo.
Moreover, Syrian opposition rebels injured 9 Kurdish civilians in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhood in Aleppo, and also hit the city of Afrin with Grad rockets.
The FSA group claimed the act was a revenge for the parading of over 60 rebel corpses in Afrin [Efrin] on 28 April. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said this was an incident that would not be repeated, and promised to punish the perpetrators.
The assassination of Sherin and Jafar will put more fuel on the fire, analysts suggest, amidst attempts between Kurds and rebel groups to reach a ceasefire.
“Escalating YPG-opposition tensions could have huge, long-term consequences,” said Charles Lister, analyst for the Middle East Institute. “ISSG meets tomorrow: Syria’s opposition factions have done themselves no favors by executing YPG members and mistreating al-Zara female corpses,” he said.
In the meantime, Syrian opposition rebels targeted Kurdish areas with rockets. “Yes, today there were shelling on Efrin where at least 5 rockets hit the city, but there were no victims,” said Nidal Hannan, a Kurdish activist from Afrin. However, in the Kurdish neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqsoud there were victims. “9 civilians were injured, including two children,” he said.
Speaking to ARA News, Washington-based Middle East researcher at the Centre for a New American Security Nicholas Heras said: “These assassinations, targeting of civilian areas, and turf battle conflicts based on the politics of identity weaken the anti-ISIS campaign, and are a thorn in the paw of the U.S.-led counter-ISIS effort.”
“There is a real danger that the identity “Kurd,” will become synonymous with the word “traitor” for a large number of predominately ethnic Arab members of the Syrian opposition,” he added, suggesting this will play into the strategy of ideological extremist actors such as the Islamic State (ISIS).
Amnesty International last week said that armed groups attacking the Kurdish neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo since February have killed at least 83 civilians, and called on Turkey, Gulf states and others to stop the transfer of arms to the Aleppo Conquest operations room–an umbrella for Syrian Islamist rebels.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News