Syrian Kurds meet with Russian general about killing of female activists by Turkey
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Commander-in-Chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Mazloum Abdi met on Tuesday with the top Russian military official in Syria at an undisclosed location to discuss three Kurdish female activists who were killed in a Turkish drone strike just outside the northern city of Kobani in late June.
“We received today the of Commander of the Russian forces in Syria, Major General Alexander Chaiko to discuss common issues among them the violations of Turkey of the 23rd October agreement, in particular the assassination of three Kurdish female activists in Kobani,” General Abdi wrote in a tweet.
“It has been agreed to raise the level of coordination and joint work. And we have directed thanks to his responsiveness in working to confront the challenges.”
The June 23 Turkish drone strike killed three female civilians at a residence in the village of Helincê, near the Kurdish majority city of Kobani.
At the time, Syrian Kurds blamed both Russia and the United States for the violation of previous ceasefire agreements each had facilitated.
In the days following the attack, Kurdish demonstrators protested in front of a Russian base in the village of Eezah and in front of a US base in the Hasakah countryside to condemn the Turkish attack.
“Turkey continues to violate international law and the 17 Oct and 22 Oct agreements that were sponsored by US Vice President Mike Pence and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which stipulates halting Turkish aggression against our regions,” General Abdi tweeted at the time.
“Stopping Turkish violations and the policy of ethnic cleansing is a responsibility and duty of America and Russia, within the framework of the October agreements and international law.”
After Turkey conducted a cross-border attack into northeastern Syria in October 2019, Russia and the US reached their separate ceasefire deals with Ankara which allowed Turkish troops to control the area between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain (Serikaniye).
In December 2019, The SDF’s General Abdi then met with the top Russian commander in Syria to discuss coordination with Russian forces in the region.
Moreover, a few days after Turkey’s assault, the Syrian Kurds reached a deal with Damascus brokered by Russia that resulted in the entry of Russian and Syrian forces into northern Syria.
Despite the agreements, Turkish-backed groups and the Turkish army itself continue to periodically target areas held by the SDF. In some cases, villagers living in Syrian-Turkish border areas were killed in attacks by the Turkish army and the rebel forces Ankara supports.
The recent Turkish drone attack was not the first such incident in Kobani. In April, another targeted a checkpoint of the Asayish, the local Kurdish security, though it resulted in no casualties or significant damage.
Local officials and Kurdish civilians fear Kobani could still be a target for future Turkish attacks because the city was a global symbol in the fight against the Islamic State.
“All of the cities at the border are under threats, but particularly when it comes to Kobani, even the Russians tell us from time to time that there is the danger that the Turks will attack you again,” Ilham Ahmed, President of the Executive Committee of the Syrian Democratic Council, said during a May 29 online event organized by the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign.
These fears further spread after rumors surfaced in late June that the Russians had lowered their national flag at the Ain al-Issa base at the Astana meeting between leaders of Russia, Iran, and Turkey in early July, where the situation in northeast Syria was discussed at length.
In a joint statement, the Astana meeting underlined that they rejected “all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives, and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries.”
The statement was seen by locals as a message directed at the SDF and the local Autonomous Administration of the North and East of Syria (AANES).
When Turkey attacked Afrin in January 2018, Russia also approved the Turkish operations and withdrew its forces from the area. The Kurds at the time refused a Russian offer to hand Afrin over to the Syrian government.
However, when Turkey attacked in October 2019, the SDF allowed Syrian government troops to be positioned on the frontline to counter Turkish-backed forces.
Editing by John J. Catherine