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The Financial Express

Kurds strike deal with Syrian army to enter Afrin

| Updated: February 20, 2018 11:04:45


Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) walk along a street in the southeast of Qamishli city, Syria, April 22, 2016. (Reuters photo used for representation) Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) walk along a street in the southeast of Qamishli city, Syria, April 22, 2016. (Reuters photo used for representation)

Syrian Kurdish forces and the Damascus government have reached an agreement for the Syrian army to enter the Afrin region to help repel a Turkish offensive, a senior Kurdish official said.

Badran Jia Kurd, an adviser to the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria, said on Sunday that army troops would deploy along some border positions and could enter the region within the next two days.

The deal underscores the increasingly tangled battlefield in northern Syria, driven by a web of rivalries and alliances among Kurdish forces, the Syrian government, rebel factions, Turkey, the United States and Russia.

The complex relationship between the Damascus government and Syrian Kurdish forces, which each holds more territory than any other side in the war, will be pivotal in how the conflict unfolds, reports Reuters.

Ankara launched an air and ground offensive on Afrin last month targeting the Kurdish YPG militia, which it views as a terrorist group with links to an armed insurrection in Turkey.

Turkey’s NATO ally the United States has armed the YPG as part of an alliance it backs in Syria against Islamic State.

But while Washington has a military presence in the much larger swathes of Syria that the YPG and its allies control further east, it has not given support to the YPG in Afrin.

“We can cooperate with any side that lends us a helping hand in light of the barbaric crimes and the international silence,” Jia Kurd said.

However, there was no immediate comment from the Syrian military.

When asked about the reported deal, YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud repeated an earlier statement that said the Syrian army had yet to respond to their calls to help protect Afrin.

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