Syrian Kurds continue resistance in Afrin

Although the Kurds lost Afrin to Turkey and Syrian rebels in March, the YPG said it would continue its resistance, targeting rebel forces backed and settled by Turkey in Afrin.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Tuesday said they carried out a number of operations against Turkish-backed rebels and the Turkish army in Afrin between July 5 and July 8.

Although the Kurds lost Afrin to Turkey and Syrian rebels in March, the YPG said it would continue its resistance, targeting rebel forces backed and settled by Turkey in Afrin.

“On July 5, our forces targeted mercenaries guarding a military base in the area between Jinderes and Atma town in Afrin with sniper rifles. A mercenary was killed,” the YPG said on Tuesday.

“On July 6, our units ambushed a group of terrorists belonging to the group called Hamza Brigade on the road between Rajo and Afrin, where three terrorists were killed,” it added.

Furthermore, the YPG said they killed Mohammed al-Souleiman, a commander of the Elite Unit, on July 7 in Afrin’s Bilbil.

“On the same day, our forces detonated a pre-prepared explosive device in one of the checkpoints of the terrorist group called Asafat al-Shimal in Mount Basraya (Jabal Qastal) of Shara district. Two terrorists called Omar Kano and Ibrahim Kano, both of whom are from Azaz, have been killed in the operation.”

The YPG also said they killed two Turkish soldiers in Afrin’s Rajo on July 7.

Moreover, the Kurdish forces said they killed a Turkish soldier and a rebel of Ahrar al-Sharqiyya in Afrin’s Mabata district. 

“With the actions carried out between July 5-8, the number of deaths of Turkish invasion army and its mercenaries has risen to 2,515,” the YPG concluded.

The information about the death of Turkish soldiers or rebels could not be verified.

According to analysts, the Kurdish YPG continues operations after the fall of Afrin in March to make it as difficult as possible for the Turkish army and rebel forces to control the region.

“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 sees the Turkish-FSA control over Afrin as a foreign occupation, and due to regime protection in the area of Tel Rifaat, the YPG continues to have direct access to Afrin and is able to carry out such attacks,” Elizabeth Tsurkov, Research Fellow at the Forum for Regional Thinking, an Israeli think-tank, who specializes in Syria, told Kurdistan 24.

“FSA factions in Afrin are faced not only with sporadic YPG attacks but also assassination attempts by rival Syrian factions. These threats are one of the reasons for the severe restrictions on freedom of movement that the FSA imposed on residents of Afrin,” she said.

“Despite this, based on my conversations with both rebels and civilians in Afrin, they still consider it to be the safest area under rebel control,” Tsurkov concluded.

Thomas Schmidinger, an Austrian expert on Kurds who visited Afrin in the past, and recently wrote a book on Afrin, told Kurdistan 24 that the YPG promised to continue the fight for Afrin.

“If they would not do that this would definitely look like surrender. Of course, the YPG leadership knows that they will not be able to retake Afrin from the Turkish forces, but if they would surrender they would have a problem of justification toward their own support base,” he said.

“On the other side, it is also a good choice to keep Turkey busy in Afrin if you want to save the rest of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. And finally, it is a sign to the Arab IDPs and settlers from East Ghouta and other former opposition-held places in Syria that Afrin is not saved for them,” he added.

“Maybe there is some hope to reduce the effect of demographic changes carried out by Turkey and its allies,” Schmidinger concluded.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany