Hasakah – At least 12 Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and eight ISIS militants were killed under attacks by Turkey-backed rebels in northern Syria, the Turkish Army said on Saturday.
Supported by Turkey’s military forces, Syrian rebels of the Euphrates Shield Bridges reportedly bombed YPG headquarters near the Qereh Dagh town in Aleppo Governorate.
The offensive coincided with another attack by Turkey-backed rebels on ISIS strongholds in the vicinity of al-Bab city, north of Aleppo, according to a statement by the Turkish Central Command, which reported the death of 12 Kurdish YPG fighters and eight ISIS members in the operations on Saturday.
On the other hand, a YPG spokesman told ARA News that their headquarters in Aleppo have been exposed to Turkish strikes. However, the Kurdish official denied the death of any of their fighters in Saturday’s attack, saying that only two YPG fighters were injured.
Dilovan Mirkhani, a media activist accompanying the YPG forces in Aleppo Governorate, said that the Turkish offensive was aimed at impeding the YPG progress against ISIS.
“Turkey’s military and their allied Euphrates Shield rebels have repeatedly targeted the YPG positions in a bid to undermine the Kurdish advance against ISIS in northern Syria,” Mirkhani told ARA News. “However, the YPG and other factions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) remained committed to the fight against ISIS and continued their military operations on different fronts, including northern Aleppo.”
US-led Coalition Doesn’t Support Turkey-Backed Rebels in al-Bab
The US-led coalition has not previously, and is not now supporting the Syrian rebels’ push into al-Bab city, according to its spokesman. The rebel factions in al-Bab are participating in Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Operation.
“The coalition has not been a part of the Turkish advance toward al-Bab. This is a national decision that they made,” said Colonel John Dorrian, an Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman. “What we are definitely positive about is that everybody here –Turkey and our partners on the ground and the partnered force that’s working with Turkey– all have a vested interest in defeating Daesh,” Col Dorrian said, employing an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
According to Col Dorrian, the coalition’s advisors are not part of the al-Bab operation. “[Our] advisors were removed after the Turkey-backed rebels started moving on al-Bab,” he said. “We’ve not supported the advance to al-Bab thus far. We did conduct a lot of strikes in support of the Turkish military and their partnered force as they conducted operations to clear Daesh along their border,” Col Dorrian explained, in reference to earlier Turkish Army operations near the towns of Jarabulus and Marea.
“So this is a decision they’ve made to go into al-Bab, but it’s not one that the coalition has provided strikes in support of,” Col Dorrian clarified. “This is something that they’ve decided to do independently.”
The American colonel also said that operations against the Islamic State (ISIS) by both Turkey-backed rebels and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) should be coordinated. “We believe that all of the operations in Syria against Daesh should be coordinated, very closely, between all the parties that are involved,” Col Dorrian said.
According to the coalition’s spokesman, deconfliction measures are in place to prevent the SDF and rebel forces from “converging in a way that would be unhelpful.” Analysts believe that there is a potential for clashes between Turkey-aligned rebel groups and the SDF as both want to take al-Bab city.
While Kurdish-led forces want to secure the city in order connect the Afrin and Kobane canton administrations, Turkey’s main goal in northern Syrian is to prevent Kurdish contiguity. Their objectives are irreconcilable.
Reporting by: Qehreman Miste | Source: ARA News