AFRIN, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – A top Syrian Kurdish official in the country’s north-west district of Afrin said on Thursday that Russian forces asked them to allow the Syrian army enter Afrin in order to stop the Turkish attacks on the region.
In an exclusive interview with Kurdistan24, Bahjat Abdo, a senior commander in the Syrian Kurdish YPG forces and the Head of Defence Authority in Afrin, said they would never allow the Syrian regime to return to Afrin.
“Russians say if we allow the Syrian regime forces enter Afrin, they will stop the Turkish attacks,” he said.
“We drove the Syrian regime out of Afrin five years ago, and it is impossible to allow them back,” Abdo further added.
The western and eastern countryside of Afrin, which is held by the Kurdish YPG forces, has been bombarded by both Turkish-backed Syrian militants and the Turkish military since the US-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) tightened the noose on the Islamic State (IS) in Raqqa two weeks ago.
According to the Kurdish YPG press office in Afrin, dozens of civilians were killed and wounded in the Turkish bombardment on Afrin and Shahba district in Syria’s north-west.
Abdo attributed the Turkish attacks on Afrin to Turkey’s failure in futile attempt to stop Kurdish expansion in northern Syria.
“The current attacks on Afrin Canton and Shahba district is a result of the Turkish failure,” he said.
“Turkey tried in various ways and through extremist movements to thwart the Kurdish revolution in Rojava,” Abdo said referring to the Syrian armed groups backed by Turkey.
Abdo further criticized the Turkish policy in handling the situation in Syria.
“Through supporting the radical and extremist forces [in northern Syria], Turkey lost its historical values,” he said.
“This is why Turkish government has gone crazy in its policy and actions,” he further explained the reason behind the Turkish attacks on Syria’s Kurdish-held areas.
Additionally, Abdo attributed the attacks to the losses of IS in Raqqa to the SDF of which the YPG is a key component.
“Because Daesh [IS] is losing its last stronghold in Syria, Turkey is making all this chaos in the region,” he said.
Abdo also criticized the Russians’ position towards the attacks on Afrin.
“Russians say they are supporting us when their forces enter Afrin, but unfortunately when the Russians entered Afrin, the Turkish attacks increased,” he said.
“Russians and Turks want to create more chaos and disturb people's lives and forcibly displace them,” he added.
Turkey already controls a large pocket of land in northern Syria since its Euphrates Shield operation alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels ended in February, successfully denying the YPG a chance to break Afrin's isolation and create a link with the other Kurdish canton of Kobani.
Kurdish forces have stated a Turkish attack on them could disrupt the ongoing US-supported operation to capture the city of Raqqa, de facto capital of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.
Editing by Ava Homa
(Kurdistan24 correspondent Redwan Bezar conducted the interview in Afrin)