PHOTO: Kurdish fighters celebrate capture of Tel Abyad on Turkish border from Islamic State, June 15, 2015 (Rodi Said/Reuters)
The leadership of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) has warned the Turkish Government not to intervene with ground troops inside Syria.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the PYD said, “Turkey must stop threatening and occupying Syria”, and called on the international community to block any intervention.
Last weekend, reports circulated in Turkish media that the Davutoğlu Government was considering a zone of about 100 square km (37 square miles) along the border, possibly extending 20-30 km (12-19 miles) deep, with a base at Jarablus in northern Syria on the border.
However, the reports said the military was reluctant to take action, a claim reinforced by subsequent leaks. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu promised an announcement on Tuesday of the Government decision, but it never appeared.
The PYD said on Wednesday, “This issue is a domestic issue of the Syrian people and none of the neighbors have the right to intervene.”
The party said, “We have no aim to establish an independent state”, but then reiterated that the Kurdish YPG militia is “ready to respond to any attacks on Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan]”.
This spring, Kurdish forces — sometimes assisted by Free Syrian Army units and US airstrikes — have defeated the Islamic State to close a 90-km gap along the Turkish border to join their Kobane and Cezire cantons. Meanwhile, further to the west, the Islamic State has been fighting rebel forces for towns such as Mare’ and Azaz, close to a key border crossing.
On Tuesday, the US poured cold water on the reports of Turkish plans for military enforcement of a safe haven inside Syria.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, “The US military — and again, I’m not speaking for the Pentagon, but they’ve made it clear that right now they don’t — there isn’t a need for it from a US military or coalition perspective, and there are difficulties in trying to execute that kind of thing.”
Kirby continued, “I would let the US military speak for the complications and the difficulties in any kind of US support for that kind of plan. But again, you should refer — I’d refer you to Ankara.”
Renewed Rebel Offensive Started in Aleppo?
There are signs tonight of a renewed rebel offensive to take regime areas of the divided city of Aleppo.
— Zaina Erhaim (@ZainaErhaim) July 2, 2015
Earlier on Thursday rebels announced a new operations room, Ansar as-Sharia. The 13 factions include Ahrar as-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra.
A pro-Assad outlet says rebels attacked on Thursday morning in the al-Zahra area of western Aleppo, forcing the Syrian army and militia to withdraw from the Great Prophet Mosque towards the ruined Air Force Intelligence building.
Rebels indicated two weeks ago that they would seek to reunited Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, which has been divided since July 2012. Operations in the western section have taken parts of Khalidiya, Layramoun, and al-Rashidin.
Rebel Spokesman: We Are Responding to The Demands of Protests in East Ghouta
A spokesman for a rebel faction has given assurances that the military authorities in East Ghouta, near Damascus, will respond to complaints in protests over the past week:
Wael Alwan, spokesman for Ajnad a-Sham, told Syria Direct
Immediately after the protests, the United Command, represented by Abu Mohammed al-Fatih [deputy to Zahran Alloush in the United Command] held a meeting with local institutions and notables. There were discussions concerning the protesters’ demands, and the meeting ended with the decision to take several steps:
1) The approval of a plan for a [new] internal structure to transform the United Command from a military to general body.
2) The formation of a civilian administration to oversee all border crossing points.
3) Turning over all the judicial files from the purview of military brigades to that of the [independent] United Judiciary.
4) Making all of the military groups pledge to stop house raids and arrest campaigns, as well as detentions, except with a judicial memo.
Atwan said there had been complications because a unit of Jaish al-Islam, the faction led by Alloush, had arrested activists and soldiers in Misraba — following an assassination attempt on the commander of the brigade — even as agreement was being reached on the four-step plan.
He added,, “[Jaish al-Islam’s] campaign also targeted a leader in Ajnad a-Sham. He was insulted with the most ugly utterances, which stirred up considerable anger among residents as well as Ajnad a-Sham.”
On Wednesday, the United Military Command announced a general amnesty for detainees, as Alloush returned to East Ghouta after a months-long absence for tours of rebel frontlines inside Syria and discussions in Jordan and Turkey.
The amnesty applies to all crimes that took place before Wednesday. It does not extend to detainees accused of membership in the Islamic State, collaboration with the regime, murder, forgery, or homosexuality.
Claims: Kurdish PYD Asks Regime to Hand Over Weapons in Hasakah Province
Claims are circulating that the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) has asked the Assad regime to hand over weapons in Hasakah Province in northeast Syria, amid an Islamic State assault on Hasakah city.
Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency said Wednesday that the request was made when Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij visited Qamishli, a border town controlled by the Syrian military and Kurdish forces.
“Freij arrived in the Hasakeh province at the head of a delegation that included Syrian intelligence members and met with a PYD delegation,” a local activist said. “The PYD asked Freij to hand over all the regime weapons in the 123rd Regiment’s base in Hasakeh.”
Pro-opposition outlet All4Syria reported a similar version of the story. There has been no mention in Kurdish outlets.
Pro-Assad outlets have reported the meeting and posted photographs and video, without giving details.
The Syrian army base is located a few kilometers northeast of Hasakah city, where the Islamic State renewed an offensive last week and took over southern areas.
Activists: Another 61 Killed Amid Regime Attacks on Wednesday
The Local Coordination Committees report that 61 people were killed on Wednesday, bringing the total of confirmed deaths to almost 150 in the last 48 hours.
Of Wednesday’s deaths, 21 were in Daraa Province, mainly from shelling of the towns of Taiba and Saida. Fifteen were killed in Aleppo Province, most in shelling of Tadef, and 12 in Damascus and its suburbs.
A picture noting the contributions of China, Russia, Iran, and even the US to the barrel-bombing by the Assad regime:
In Aleppo, there appears to be a brief respite from the attacks:
— Zaina Erhaim (@ZainaErhaim) July 2, 2015
Video: Islamic State Placing Mines Along Turkish Border
Facing defeat by Kurdish forces and an intervention by Ankara, the Islamic State has been placing mines along the Turkish border.
Video of Islamic State fighters near the city of Jarablus, reportedly the proposed base for Turkish ground troops in any intervention: