In the next two days Syrian government forces will be deployed along certain stretches of the Turkish border and in the Afrin province, where the Turkish Armed Forces are carrying out Operation “Olive Branch”, announced Bardan Jia Kurd, spokesperson for the administration of the self-declared Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).
An agreement has finally been reached with Damascus, Reuters reports. The Kurds have their first ally in the war with Turkey, whereas before, as they themselves put it, the mountains were their only allies.
On February 19, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) will give the Syrian army several positions in the city of Afrin (65 km from Aleppo) and in regions on the Turkish border, Firat news agency reported on Monday.
Government forces may be brought into Afrin within the next 48 hours. This agreement was reached at the end of negotiations between the two parties in Aleppo. The Kurds have asked Damascus to provide anti-air defense to Afrin, which has been targeted by the Turkish Air Force.
This is good news for the Kurds, but daunting news for Syria, where the current military and political situation is extremely complicated. The government forces, the Kurdish military formations, the Syrian opposition, and the armed forces of the US and Turkey and Russia’s Aerospace Forces constitute an incredible tangle of differing interests and claims.
It was difficult for the Kurds and Damascus to reach an agreement. The Kurds first rose up against the Syrian government during the Arab Spring, taking control of a large area in northern Syria. There they established a multi-confessional democratic government. The situation was made more complicated for Damascus by the fact that the rich hydrocarbon deposits are in the north, outside of government control. It seemed that Turkey’s invasion would be somewhat profitable for Assad, ridding him of some of his opponents, especially since Turkish President Recep Erdogan has repeatedly stated that Turkey respects the territorial integrity of Syria, and only wants rid its border regions of terrorists.
However, Assad has accused Turkey of sponsoring terrorism, referring to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), whose divisions are fighting in Afrin alongside Turkey’s regular armed forces. The FSA was initially created by disgraced generals who sided with the Syrian opposition, but later it came under Turkey’s influence.
The Kurds are reluctant to exchange liberty for survival. There is currently no talk of Assad bringing northern Syria back under his control. Jia Kurd stresses that the agreement is primarily military, and political negotiations are still to come. The government forces are to become a buffer between the Kurds and Turkey.
“We don’t know what the future negotiations with Damascus will lead to, because there are people on both sides who are dissatisfied with the current agreement,” the Kurdish representative observed.
Turkey has so far made no comment in this regard. Turkish generals continue to report Kurdish militant losses.