YPG commander eyes Russia for help in fight against ISIS, al-Nusra
by Fatih Şemsettin Işık
ISTANBULOct 02, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Fatih Şemsettin Işık
Oct 02, 2015 12:00 am
The general commander of the Syrian PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party's (PYD) armed People's Protection Units (YPG), Sipan Hemo, said Wednesday that Russia can help their fight against the ISIS and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.
Speaking to Sputnik Kurdistan, Hemo said they want Russia to provide air support as well as weapons in their fight against ISIS. "We can organize an effective cooperation with Russia on the issue. Russia should confront not only ISIS, but also al-Nusra Front, as no significant difference between these two groups exists. Both are the branches of al-Qaida and they both should be eliminated."
Previously in December 2014, PYD Co-Chair Salih Muslim said in an interview that it is possible for the PYD to cooperate with al-Nusra Front in Syria. "[The PYD and al-Nusra Front's] goal is the same. We can cooperate now," Muslim said, explaining that both groups want to have a democratic Syria.
Russia started conducting airstrikes in Syria in the vicinity of Homs on Wednesday, apparently in areas where no ISIS militants exist and are rather controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but Russian officials deny the claims. Following Syrian leader Bashar Assad asking Russian President Vladimir Putin for assistance, Putin made his request to Russian parliament to deploy the Russian air force abroad, focusing on anti-ISIS airstrikes in Syria. The upper house of parliament unanimously approved and expedited the request.
For its part, the YPG's stance in the fight against ISIS puzzles some, especially its alleged alliance with Syrian opposition groups.
Reportedly, this week several opposition groups, including Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al- Mujahideen, al-Muntasir Billah Battalion, Liwa Sultan Murad Movement clashed with the YPG, where the group controls Aleppo's northern Sheikh Maqsoud district.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera Turk, commander of the Turkmen al-Muntasir Billah Battalion, Firas Pasha, said the clashes started after the PYD paved a way for regime troops in the district. "Although they deny it, the PYD and Assad are in an alliance. They have not fought against each other for the last five years," he said, and claimed that PYD attacks Turkmen villages in the district with medium range weapons and snipers.
The PYD, which allegedly aims to gain independence in northern Syria through opening a corridor between its Kobani and Afrin cantons, works collaboratively with the PKK, recent intelligence reports published in Turkish media say. The PKK, which was formed in 1978 and is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, has been fighting the Turkish state for an independent Kurdistan since 1984.