After defeating Syrian rebels in the city, the Syrian army is now trying to expand its control to the Kurdish areas in Aleppo. Photo:SANA
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—With the tide of Syria's war turning in the government's favor, the army now seems to turn its attention towards next target, the Kurdish enclave, after regime forces recaptured the country's second largest city Aleppo earlier this month.
Syrian military authorities have told the Kurdish forces affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to pull their People's Protection Units (YPG) from eastern outskirts of Aleppo or integrate them into the army and "restore the institutions of the state", according to a high ranking general in the Syrian military.
"The government had entrusted the PYD with these areas and now the government wants them back. Their (PYD's) work in confronting the terrorists has been completed," General Haitham Hassoun of the Syrian army told Rudaw without specifying when the regime takeover is likely to take place.
The PYD, which is the main political group in Syria’s Kurdistan and rules over an area also known as Rojava, declared on March 16 that the region was a federal entity within Syria.
The federal region encompasses the three main cities of Afrin, Kobani and Jazira which previously were run as de facto autonomous cantons.
The PYD has called the new region the Federation of Northern Syria-Rojava and says its government and society will remain polyethnic.
The army withdrew from these regions in northeastern parts of the country in mid-2011 as the Syrian uprising was in its initial months. Though no written agreements were ever published, yet many believed at the time that the army left Kurdish areas in close coordination with the PYD.
There are no accurate data about the number of different ethnic groups living in Rojava since many of the Kurdish families in the area were stripped of their citizenship in the 1962 controversial census and were regarded as ajanib or foreigners.
In April 2011, in the heat of the Civil War, the government announced it had granted the ajanib full Syrian citizenship.
The complicated relations between the PYD and Damascus were stable despite profound challenges over the years, but as the US army provided the Kurdish YPG fighters with equipment and aerial support in the aftermath of the battle for Kobani, the Syrian government became increasingly weary of the new alliance between the US and the Kurds.
"Ever since the PYD became a US servant and is being used to protect American interests, the government realized the unfaithfulness of the PYD which tries to undermine the government and increase its dominance at our cost," General Hassoun said.
"In the end the PYD must come back under government since they are there as a result of deal," the general said.
Spokesperson of Turkey's pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) Ayaan Bilgen told Rudaw last week that the move to expel Kurdish forces from east of Aleppo was expected after Syrian and Turkish representatives had "shown interest" in meeting and mending relations between the two countries.