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YPG receiving training from Russia in Afrin, says spokesman

By Rudaw 20/3/2017
YPG in Syria. Photo: Getty
YPG in Syria. Photo: Getty

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish forces in Syria have announced their “direct relations with Russia,” saying they are receiving training from Russian forces. The Russian Ministry of Defense issued a statement denying that they are establishing a military presence in northern Syria beyond monitoring the ceasefire. 

Russian forces are present in the western-most Kurdish canton of Afrin “as a result of an agreement between our forces and the Russian army,” Redur Xelil, spokesperson for the People’s Protection Units (YPG), announced in a published statement on Monday. 

“The agreement was based in the framework of cooperation in the fight against terrorism and on the military training of our fighters by the Russian army. We have direct relations with Russia.”

Xelil described the cooperation as a “positive and good step in the fight against terrorism in Syria,” and noted that YPG forces are working with “many forces.”

Afrin is of one of three cantons constituting the autonomous northern Syrian region of Rojava. It is, however, geographically isolated from the cantons of Kobane and Cizre. 

Afrin is bordered by Turkey to the north and west, rebel groups to the south west, regime forces to the south east, and Turkish-backed forces to the east. 

Kurdish attempts to link Afrin with Kobane and Cizre were thwarted last summer when Turkey began backing the Free Syrian Army west of the Euphrates, taking control of territory from ISIS, including the cities of Jarablus and al-Bab. 

The YPG received direct support from the coalition when it fought for Kobane, dealing the first significant defeat to ISIS with the support of airstrikes. It has continued to receive support as a member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the main coalition ally on the ground in northern Syria. 

As the Pentagon develops a strategy for retaking the city of Raqqa, directly arming the YPG has been reported as one option being considered by US defense officials. 

The YPG is reportedly trying to expand its numbers. “We aspire to exceed 100,000,” Xelil told Reuters, adding that they want to achieve this target by the “second half of 2017.”

According to Reuters, the YPG numbered 60,000 at the end of 2016, including the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ).

Reuters also reported that Russia was going to establish a military base in northwestern Syria, a report Russia denied. “There are no plans to deploy new Russian military bases on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the Russian Defense Ministry stated on Monday. 

Russian forces have been deployed “in the contact area between detachment of the Kurdish militia and formations of the Free Syrian Army controlled by the Turkish party (near Afrin in the Aleppo province),” in order to prevent ceasefire violations, the ministry stated. 

“Earlier, the Reuters news agency referring to representatives of the Kurdish militia had reported that Russia had been deploying a new military base in the north-west of Syria, and that the agreement with Moscow had included training of combatants from the Kurdish formations,” the ministry’s statement refuting the report concludes.



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FAUthman | 20/3/2017
Kurds in Syria: Win US support, win Russia support, win regime support, and if Erdogan still does not support you, don't worry about it!
karim | 20/3/2017
they need no training. they need propper weapons and good tactics. ***by the way - ypg had the opportunity to mine the streets and aerias before turkey jihadists came. and they had and have the opportunity to attack their shelter and troop built up with hell kanons.
Dutchman | 20/3/2017
Putin and Assad only started fighting IS after barrel bombing complete cities in Syria where there was no IS at all. They will barrel bomb Afrin too if they get the chance. The YPG in Afrin is different from the main part of Rojava and the USA has always been critisizing this group. Those in Afrin most be really desperate to co-operate with mass murderers like Putin and Assad.
Forked tongue | 21/3/2017
Good. The Russians will keep the Ottomans honest so that Turkey will not send military to Afrin. Why does Erdogan not see he has been castrated?
Carel van Ruysdael | 21/3/2017
These latest developements take place because America fears Turkey and does not dare to arm the Kurds. The US is helpless and is paralysed in face of Erdogans threats . Russia is doing the job that America is failing to do. America is worshiping Erdogan the Islamist tyant. The Trump team is confused and is not even able to distinguish properly between enemies and friends, Trump is not able to replace the perfidous Toner who was left bebind Obama the eunuche. I' am sorry: I sincerely appreciate Trump but he is being kidnapped by remnants of the coranic school of his predecessor.

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