Kurdish forces ambush Turkish-backed fighters in Afrin, killing two

The People's Protection Units (YPG) on Friday claimed they had killed two fighters from the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad Division, a group that participated in the occupation of Afrin.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The People's Protection Units (YPG) on Friday claimed they had killed two fighters from the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad Division, a group that participated in the occupation of Afrin.

Although Kurds lost Afrin to Turkey and allied Syrian militias in March, the YPG continues to target rebel forces settled by Ankara in the embattled city.

"Within the scope of the second phase of the Resistance of the Age in occupied Afrin, our forces carried out a successful action against the Sultan Murad Division mercenaries," the YPG said.

“On September 6th, our forces set up an ambush on the road between the Der Sewan and Shekhurze villages of Afrin’s Shera district, targeting two Sultan Murad Division´s mercenaries. As a result of action, both mercenaries were killed and two AK-47 were confiscated,” the YPG statement said.

A video posted by a journalist that had originally been published by the YPG showed one of the rifles the YPG fighters were using had a silencer attached to it.

“The YPG appears determined to keep carrying out attack[s] across Efrin (Afrin) - as long as the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army factions remain in control, these attacks will likely persist,” Elizabeth Tsurkov, a Research Fellow who specializes in Syria at the Forum for Regional Thinking, an Israeli think-tank, told Kurdistan 24.

“The forces controlling Efrin are currently incapable of clamping down and preventing these attacks, despite (and possibly due to) heavy-handed security measures,” she said. 

“The typical response after these attacks are random arrests of Kurds who often seem to lack any clear connection to the YPG. We should expect more of these abuses following this particularly deadly attack,” she added.

In the last week, the YPG has carried out multiple attacks, killing several Turkish-backed rebels, including a division commander, sparking outrage among Turkish-backed fighters. 

Abo Hussen, one commander, has called for collective punishment of Kurds after others were killed in an attack by Kurdish forces last Monday.

“Not a single Kurd from the age of 15 to 50 must be allowed to stay in Afrin and its surrounding towns. This is our right,” Hussen added. “Just as our youths and families have been expelled [in Tal Rifaat]. We must expel them even more, and make them homeless.”

Nicholas A. Heras, a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told Kurdistan 24 that Turkey’s dependence on Syrian rebel groups to manage occupied Afrin “is operating on a hope and a prayer.”

“The Syrian rebels running Afrin are mercenaries with little local legitimacy,” he noted.

According to Heras, the only way Turkey and its Syrian rebel proxies will gain legitimacy in Afrin “is to irreversibly change the population of Afrin by forcibly expelling Kurds.”

Editing by John J. Catherine