Collapsed buildings in the Syrian city of Aleppo, April, 2015. Photo: AFP
The Syrian Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) accused opposition groups of firing projectiles containing chemical agents into the Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo on Tuesday. This comes shortly after shelling of that area killed 16 people on Sunday.
“Chemical material believed to be phosphorus with a yellow coloring,” hit the neighborhood on Tuesday read a YPG statement quoted by Reuters. Groups which have been shelling that neighborhood, the YPG say, include the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham.
The al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra is also believed to have fired into the neighborhood in recent days according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.
Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria have been subjected to chemical weapons attacks by the Islamic State (ISIS).
The YPG have tried to close Syria’s northwestern border with Turkey and in doing so cut off their supply routes. Turkey responded by bombarding their positions with artillery. However since the February 27 ceasefire in the country Ankara has said it only directed its artillery fire into Syria against ISIS positions.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Monday, that Russia wants the international powers to respond to Turkey’s cross-border shelling of the YPG. Russian warplanes supported their offensive in the northwest last month. That offensive coincided with the Russian-backed Syrian military offensive around the city of Aleppo.
As part of their offensive the YPG managed to push the aforementioned Levant Front group from the former Syrian air base of Menagh near the Turkish border on February 10.
The head of the Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, also said on Tuesday, according to AFP, that, “Fighters from Al-Nusra Front, Jund Al-Aqsa and other groups seized the central Al-Eis hilltop and surrounding hills as well” south of Aleppo city late on Monday from forces under the command of the Syrian regime.
“The hilltops are important because they reinforce the regime’s presence in the outskirts of Aleppo and gave them a presence near the main highway south towards Damascus,” he explained.
Nusra also threatened to shoot dead protesters in the city of Idlib, who took advantage of the ceasefire to continue holding street demonstrations against the regime. Groups like Nusra and ISIS have subjected people in the areas they live to their strict interpretations of Islamic law.
A fuel market in an opposition-held town, Abu Dhuhour, in Idlib province was also hit by an airstrike, believed to be either Russian or Syrian, on Monday killing at least 12 people according to the BBC.