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YPG Leader to Asharq Al-Awsat: Moscow Colluded With Ankara

YPG Leader to Asharq Al-Awsat: Moscow Colluded With Ankara

Monday, 22 January, 2018 - 07:45
Kurdish fighters from the YPG run across a street in Raqqa, Syria July 3, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Goran Tomasevic

The leader of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Sipan Hamo, said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday that Russia has “betrayed” Syria’s Kurds by allowing Turkey to launch its military operation in Afrin, in northwestern Aleppo.

Hamo said Damascus has informed the “Units” that Moscow had prevented regime forces from responding to the Turkish Army and had also banned the delivery of support to the YPG.

He uncovered that he visited Moscow on Saturday and met with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, in addition to intelligence officials.

His visit came following talks held by Turkish Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar in the Russian capital to place the last touches on the “Olive Branch Operation,” launched on Sunday by the Turkish Army and Syrian opposition factions against the YPG in Afrin.

“The Russians informed us that Turkey has the right to defend its border security,” Hamo said, adding that Gerasimov told him about the withdrawal of Russian forces from Afrin to Tal Rafaat in the countryside of Aleppo, and that the “Russian Army will not participate in the Turkish operation.”

The leader of the YPG also said that during his visit to Russia, he had asked for an air cover “to prevent Turkey from shelling us.”

However, Hamo said that the Russians did not meet his request.

“The situation is bad. The shelling is ongoing and did not stop for the past 24 hours,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

There have been reports that Moscow and Ankara had tackled three main points minutes before the launch of Olive Branch Operation: the use of Turkish warplanes, the extent of the land infiltration, and the identity of the fighters who will enter Afrin.

A western official told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday that Moscow had approved Turkey’s use of warplanes during the military operation in Afrin with a possibility of establishing monitoring positions at the outskirts of the city and the creation of a “security line” inside Syria.

“There is a Russian accomplice with Turkey, and even a Russian betrayal,” Hamo said.

He added that the YPG possesses fighters to defend Afrin.

“However, we are worried about civilians,” he said, adding that military reinforcement already arrived to the Syrian city from Manbij.

“We will resist. This is imperative,” Hamo asserted.

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