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Rudaw

Syria

Assad victory in Aleppo unlikely to affect armed Kurdish presence in city

By Paul Iddon 30/11/2016
Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighter. AFP file photo.
Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighter. AFP file photo.
In light of the Syrian regime’s rapid advances against opposition-held East Aleppo in the last few days there is a possibility that, in the foreseeable future, the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) will be the only other armed force in that city. Analysts doubt that the regime will turn its guns on the YPG, at least not for the meantime.

“I think that given the working arrangements in other areas, the regime will allow the YPG control of Sheikh Maqsoud to continue,” Robert Lowe, the Deputy Director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, whose main research interest is the Kurdish movement in Syria, told Rudaw English.

“It’s probably too early for the regime to pick a full on fight with the YPG, it will want to consolidate and secure gains in East Aleppo for now. And it’s not in its interests to distract YPG resources away from its assault against ISIS in Raqqa, that suits the regime nicely,” he added.

The YPG are not aligned with the opposition forces under siege in east Aleppo, or with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Their enclave in north Aleppo has been subjected to numerous attacks by various opposition groups, many of them Islamists militants. The Kurds in Aleppo have been accused of collaborating with the regime by Assad’s opponents.

While the regime and the YPG have some common enemies they have never directly coordinated. Last August Kurdish forces in the city of Hasaka directly clashed with the pro-regime National Defense Forces (NDF) militia. The Syrian regime responded by targeting the Kurds with bombers, only to be deterred by American jet fighters who back the YPG, and the larger Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Arab-Kurdish coalition, against ISIS militants.

“I doubt that Sheikh Maqsoud will be targeted by the regime,” Professor Joshua Landis, a Syria-expert at the University of Oklahoma, told Rudaw English.

“I believe that the next region of interest for the regime will be al-Bab and the north, where it will want to stop the Turkish-rebel advance,” he added.

Landis was referring to the present phase of Turkey Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria, which is seeing Turkey back its estimated 1,500-3,000 Free Syrian Army (FSA) allies in a push to force ISIS from the northwestern Syrian city of al-Bab. The Syrian regime vehemently opposes a Turkish-backed FSA takeover of that city and even went so far as allegedly bombing Turkish soldiers, killing four of them on November 24.

 

Rather than divert stretched resources into a confrontation with the YPG in Aleppo – that could, as Lowe pointed out, affect the SDF offensive against Raqqa – Damascus would likely want to ensure a Turkish-backed FSA proxy does not take al-Bab, which is situated some 50 kilometers to Aleppo’s northeast.

If the increasingly beleaguered opposition forces in Aleppo are routed in the near future the YPG will remain in place while the regime bypasses them to prevent their enemy in Ankara from allowing the FSA to takeover and setup base in al-Bab.

 

"I don't think that Assad will want to pick a fight with the YPG today or in the near future. That fight will come eventually, but they both have the Syrian rebels and Turkey as an enemy today," Professor Landis concluded.

 

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duroi | 1/12/2016
In August, FSA moved some of its forces from east Aleppo to join Turkey to attack Kurds, and they lost Aleppo for what? Jarablus!Idiots. The same happened with ISIS diverting its forces from Karbala, a city on open field, to attack Kurdish mountainous areas in Iraq, and now losing its foothold in Mosul. It is time for YPG to divert its forces from Aleppo to open a front from the south to capture al-Bab. Next will be Hatay or Jabal al-Akrad?
T.I. | 1/12/2016
The rebels are all going to be slaughtered because they made the big mistake of trusting Turkey, the turks used them purely for their own interest.
Germian | 1/12/2016
Hahaha erdogan sacrificed the all the sunnis in aleppo for a deal with putin! if they hadn't broken every deal and seasfire with kurds they would've been in very different situation today! in the end they couldn't defeat or contain kurds. and now they're going to loose
Dutchman | 1/12/2016
Don't be naive. Assad wants a fictory against all opposition, fundamentalist or modest, including the Kurds. Assad will not only bomb the Kurdish part of Aleppo, but the whole of Rojava. And Putin will help by bombing all hospitals in Rojava, just like he did in East Aleppo. These guys ar pure evil.
Jamal | 1/12/2016
Syria is just a second Afganistan...War will be continue for decades...No victory for any side...No one should see wet dream...This war planned accordignt to a prolong time frame by West...They dont allow any side to win victory....

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