AFRIN, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan 24) – Syrian forces recently deployed to the Kurdish enclave of Afrin would be distributed along the front lines to defend against the Turkish offensive, not stationed inside the city, said Kurdish and Syrian commanders on Friday.
On Tuesday, pro-government forces deployed to Afrin in support of the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in defending the region from the Turkish military operation that has been pounding Afrin since Jan. 20.
“We came to Afrin to protect the people of the region. Now, we are on the battlefields to combat Turkish terrorist forces,” Mohammed al-Faraj, a Commander of the pro-government forces in Afrin, told Kurdistan 24 on Friday.
“Now, there are clashes between our troops and Turkish forces. Turkish jets are targeting us,” said Faraj.
The YPG hailed the arrival of the pro-government forces, which included militias allied to Syrian President but not the Syrian army itself, and said they had instead been deployed along the front lines at the Turkish border.
YPG spokesperson in Afrin Brusk Hasaka also explained to Kurdistan 24 that none of the pro-government forces would be stationed within Afrin, but only on the front lines surrounding it, to assist Kurdish fighters in defending against the Turkish military and Turkish-backed rebels.
“There is no reason for us as a military to be in the center of Afrin. We would also distribute the forces we have received to the front lines. There have been no clashes or incidents inside the city of Afrin that make a military presence necessary. Civil life goes on in normal in here,” Hasaka added.
The forces, which are estimated to be made up of about four thousand fighters, have been mostly distributed to the Jindires fronts in southwestern of Afrin, Raju in the northwestern of the enclave.
On Jan. 20, Turkey announced the military operation, intended to drive out the YPG, Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), and the ruling party Democratic Union Party (PYD) from Afrin.
Ankara sees YPG, YPJ, and PYD collectively as a ‘terrorist’ group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group fighting a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish government in Turkey.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Akram Salih contributed to this report)