Kurds in Aleppo form militant group to fight YPG, Assad

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 01.06.2016 01:45

Kurds in Aleppo have established an armed group that will fight against Syrian regime forces and the PKK Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Protection Units (YPG) militia.

The group, Kurdish Revolutionary Battalions, announced its establishment in a video on Monday and called all Kurds to join them in the fight against Bashar Assad and the PYD and YPG.

Asserting that the PYD and YPG are in cooperation with Assad, the group said in the statement: "We will not surrender to the oppression. We are ready to die for this cause if needed. We will do our best for the unity of the people of Syria and its territorial integrity." The spokesman of the group in the video insistently refers to the PYD and YPG as the PKK, regarding them as the same.

Contrary to reports in Western media in which the PYD and YPG are depicted as the sole representative of Kurds in Syria, the PKK-linked group reportedly fights against other Kurds in northern Syria and committed several atrocities to silence dissidents.

In February, the PYD had previously blocked 6,000 Syrian peshmerga fighters who were trained in Iraqi Kurdistan and were attempting to return to Syria. The Turkish government had allowed peshmerga fighters from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Northern Iraq to pass through Turkey to join the fight against DAESH in Kobani in October 2014. The KRG peshmerga units played a significant role in rebuffing DAESH offensives.

KRG officials have said that the PYD cannot be considered a group that represents all Kurds in Syria and that the group's legitimacy has declined in their eyes. The PYD has forced 13 Syrian Kurdish parties to leave territory it controls. All of these parties are represented in the Syrian National Coalition that supports the territorial integrity of a free Syria. In order to hinder opposing voices from the KRG and Iraqi Kurds, the PYD banned Iraqi Kurdistan's Rudaw Media Network from operating in Kobani and the surrounding area. The PYD made a statement regarding the decision and defended its policy: "The decision will be in place unless Rudaw changes its politics."

Syrian Kurdish academic Dr. Mustafa Muslim, known for his opposition to policies followed by his brother, Salih Muslim, said in an exclusive interview with Daily Sabah in January that Russia uses the PYD as a tool against Turkey. Refuting recent claims by PYD supporters that Ankara acts against Syrian Kurds, Muslim asserted that Turkey has been in solidarity with Syrians in general, and with Kurds in particular, in the Syrian civil war.

In an interview published in the Al-Araby Al-Jadeed daily, a KRG military official said that the PKK and PYD are making the fight against DAESH more difficult for KRG peshmerga forces. A peshmerga commander, Qassem Shasho, said that his forces had to postpone plans to liberate Sinjar, a strategically important location in the region, from DAESH because of the PKK presence in the area. Shasho told the daily that they had hoped to launch an attack against DAESH in the beginning of November, but the PKK and PYD prevented the planned attacks.

When asked about his thoughts on deepening military ties between the United States and the PYD, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani said: "Any support to the PYD means support for the PKK. They are exactly one and the same thing." In an interview with Al-Monitor in March, when Barzani was asked if the Americans believe that the PKK and PYD are the same, he said: "They know very well, but they don't want to say they know very well."

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