ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Nuri Mahmud, the spokesperson of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Sunday rejected media reports that the YPG is joining the Syrian government’s upcoming Idlib offensive.
“While the probability of a military campaign in the city of Idlib and its surroundings increases, some media outlets have been speaking about the participation of our forces in this operation. This kind of allegation is mere speculation and is far from the truth,” Nuri Mahmud said in a statement.
The Guardian, on Sep. 7, reported that “aggrieved Kurdish fighters quietly join Syrian regime side in battle for Idlib.”
Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, wrote in a letter to New York Times’ editors, published on Thursday, that the YPG brokered a deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in July to aid the Syrian government in an attack against Idlib.
There are not a lot of signs on improving relations between Damascus and Syria’s Kurds, apart from a delegation from the Syrian Democratic Council that went for talks in Damascus a few weeks ago.
On Sep. 8, in heavy clashes between Kurdish security forces and the Syrian government, at least 11 Syrian government soldiers were killed and one member of the Kurdish security police, leading to fierce comments by Damascus officials.
The YPG on Saturday promised to lead an investigation into the incident and called on Damascus to steer away from provocations.
“As the People’s Defense Units (YPG) and Women’s Defense Units (YPJ), we assure the public that our forces are continuing their hard struggle against the [Islamic State (IS)] terrorist organization and are determined to root it out from northeastern Syria,” the YPG spokesperson said, referring to the recently launched operation to take the remaining IS-held pocket in the southeast of the country.
“We continue our legitimate and rightful struggle against the Turkish invasion army that declares its presence in Afrin as lawful, and against the ISIS terrorist organization. Likewise, we confirm that there is no presence of our forces in Idlib,” he concluded.
Idlib, a strategic governorate that borders Turkey and hosts over two million people, is the last major territory still in the Syrian opposition’s hands.
The Syrian government is reportedly preparing to launch an assault on the rebel-held northwestern Idlib, which according to the United Nations could displace over 700,000 people.
There have been no sign of a ground offensive yet, as the regime and its ally, Russia, rely on aerial strikes to dislodge the rebels. Meanwhile, international talks over the fate of Syria continue.
Editing by Nadia Riva