Posted on June 22, 2017
AFRIN, Syrian Kurdistan,— Turkey has been concentrating its troops around the Kurdish city of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan from late Tuesday and is preparing to attack, a spokesman for Kurdish self-defense groups told Sputnik on Wednesday.
Afrin is located in the province of Aleppo and belongs to the de facto autonomous region of Rojava, proclaimed by the Kurds in Syrian Kurdistan, the north of Syria. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish associations to be a wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) banned in the country.
In May, Turkish agency Anadolu reported that new military operations were being prepared against the Kurds.
“The Turkish army gathered in large numbers in these areas, preparing to attack Afrin, Tell Rifaat and Shaikh Isa, which have been under control of the Kurds since last year,” the Kurdish representative said.
According to him, the military moved to the vicinity of Afrin from the city of Al Bab, liberated by the Turkish military and the pro-Ankara Syrian Free Army in 2016 from Islamic State Daesh terrorist group.
On August 24, 2016, Turkey has launched an incursion into northern Syria, in an area some 100 km (60 miles) east of Afrin to stop the US-backed Kurdish YPG forces from extending areas under their control and connecting Syrian Kurdistan’s Kobani and Hasaka in the east with Afrin canton in the west and preventing them creating a de facto Kurdish mini-state along Turkey’s frontier.
Turkey fears the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria that will not be loyal to Ankara — would spur the separatist ambitions of Turkey’s own Kurds.
The Kurdish city of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan
The Kurdish city of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava). Photo: Reuters
U.S regards the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD and its powerful military wing YPG, which is part of Kurd-Arab SDF alliance, as key ally against Islamic State and the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and has provided them with arms, air support as well as the military advisers.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units YPG, which has 60,000 fighters, has seized swathes of Syria from IS.
Syrian Kurdistan’s ruling PYD has established three autonomous zones, or Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan in 2013. On March 17, 2016 Syria’s Kurds declared a federal region in Syrian Kurdistan.