ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Syrian Kurdish forces fighting against the Islamic State (IS) were competent and did not require Russia’s support.
Putin, speaking to the media in Beijing, China, announced Russia did not have any plans to support the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“They have other sources supplying them arms. We know that the Kurdish forces [YPG and their SDF allies] are a real factor in Syria and they do take part in operations against the so-called Islamic State and are one of the most well-trained and capable forces in this fight,” he said.
Regarding Turkish concerns with arming the YPG, Putin said Russia has always sought to avoid clashes or threats from being made towards their military personnel.
“I don’t think there is anything that can raise concerns among our Turkish counterparts as our position is clear and they will understand us,” he said.
Addressing the US' arming of the YPG, Putin said, “I heard the statement made by the Turkish president when the US announced they were going to supply arms to Kurds. We have not followed suit.”
Russia recently made a show of force in Afrin by sending flag-mounted tanks and a number of soldiers on patrol alongside Kurdish fighters.
The YPG spokesperson Redur Xelil said in an earlier interview that an agreement was made on March 19 with Russia to set up an airbase in the Syrian Kurdish province of Afrin to help combat terrorism.
A week later, a group of Russian military experts arrived in Afrin with military-grade vehicles, stating Russian military staff and specialists would train the YPG forces.
The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, however, denied the news related to the development of an airbase.
The Ministry said it does not plan on establishing any more bases in Syria. Their forces in Afrin were meant to help enforce the ceasefire and prevent clashes between the YPG and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.
For further details on Russia’s plans in Syria’s Kurdish region (Rojava), watch the video below.
Editing by G.H. Renaud