ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Tuesday claimed to have killed nine Turkish soldiers and three rebels in Afrin, including a leader of the rebel group Faylaq al-Sham, in an ongoing proto-insurgency in northwestern Syria.
Although the Kurds lost Afrin to Turkey and Syrian rebels on March 18 as a result of the Olive Branch Operation, the YPG said it would continue its resistance, targeting rebel forces backed and settled by Turkey in Afrin.
“Between July 11 and 15, our units have carried out a series of operations against Turkish army and its jihadist allies, which resulted in the death of 9 Turkish and three jihadist terrorists in occupied Afrin,” the YPG said.
During the attacks, the Turkish army was also targeted.
“There are Turkish forces in Afrin and the YPG views them as illegitimate and has maintained that it will punish those forces,” Aaron Stein, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Kurdistan 24.
“Afrin still isn’t stable after [Operation] Olive Branch, and there are worrying signs that an insurgency is taking hold,” he added.
The YPG claimed to have killed eight soldiers, including high-ranking officials, in one single attack.
“On July 11, our forces planted an explosive device on a military road used by the Turkish army in Basela village of Afrin’s Shara district. Eight soldiers, including three high ranking officials (two lieutenants and a captain), were killed as result of the explosion,” the YPG statement said.
“On July 13, our forces targeted a military vehicle carrying Turkish soldiers and Firqat al-Hamza mercenaries on their way to Afrin’s Kimarah village. The operation resulted in the death of a Turkish terrorist and two mercenaries, while another Turkish terrorist was injured seriously,” the YPG statement added.
The Turkish army, however, did not confirm the casualties in Afrin. So far, the Turkish army and media websites recently only confirmed the deaths of Turkish soldiers that died in the conflict with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) inside Turkey.
The YPG also claimed to have targeted Turkish-backed rebels that operate in Afrin.
“On July 14, our forces targeted a military vehicle belonging to the mercenary group called al-Basrawi with a pre-prepared explosive device in Afrin. Four mercenaries were heavily injured,” the YPG said.
“On July 15, one of the leaders of Faylaq al-Sham terrorists called as Mohammad al-Hamoud was ambushed by our unit on the road between Afrin and village of Qatma. The terrorist has been killed,” the YPG statement asserted.
“The whole point of the insurgency against Turkey’s proxy rebels in Afrin is to put a price tag on the occupation. It makes a simple type of brutal logic, but from the perspective of the YPG, these Syrian rebels stopped being countrymen when they occupied Afrin,” Nicholas A. Heras, a Middle East security analyst at the Washington-based Center for a New American Security, told Kurdistan 24.
“They became soldiers of fortune, and as mercenaries on Turkey’s payroll, the YPG views them as legitimate and necessary targets,” he added.
The YPG claimed to have killed 2,527 mostly rebels and Turkish soldiers since the Turkish army attacked Afrin on January 20 until now.
The Turkish army in July said they had killed over 4,500 Kurdish fighters during the Olive Branch Operation, while 54 Turkish soldiers were killed and 236 others injured.
Both casualty numbers cannot be verified by independent sources.
Editing by Nadia Riva