The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 9th February 2018

Syrian Kurds halt Turkish advance!

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

KURDISH guerrillas are continuing to hold the line against the invading Turkish army in the autonomous Kurdish canton of Afrin in northern Syria. Thousands of Kurdish militias are pouring into Afrin to help the partisans trying to halt the Turkish incursion into the Kurdish-run Syrian province. Russian commandos are reported to be operating behind the lines in the hunt for the hand-held missiles (MANPADS) that Islamic terrorists used to down one of their warplanes in northern Syria.

Turkish troops, backed by tanks and air-power, and supported by their local Arab auxiliaries called the “Free Syrian Army”, have taken a few frontier villages. But they have still failed to advance more than seven kilometres from the Turkish border. The Turkish army admits to only a handful of losses while claiming to have “neutralised” nearly a thousand Kurdish militiamen over the past three weeks. But even if the Kurdish civilian casualties, which the Turks never talk about, are included this is still just Turkish propaganda.

This week a large convoy of People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) entered Afrin city on Tuesday. The Syrian media say that the convoy, transporting fighters from camps in Iraqi Kurdistan and the rest of the divided Syrian-Kurd autonomous zone, had reached Afrin via territory controlled by the Syrian Arab Army. This has fired speculation that a new agreement had been reached between the Assad government and the Syrian Kurds.

The Syrian Kurds’ Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), commonly known as Rojava, was established in 2012 with the de facto agreement of the popular front government in Damascus. But when the Syrian Kurds turned to US imperialism for support in the struggle against ISIS, relations with the Assad government soured. But all this has changed following the Turkish incursion which could only have taken place with America’s covert blessing.

Last week the Syrian Kurds called on the Syrian government to help them protect Syrian national sovereignty against Turkish attacks by sending Syrian Arab Army units into Afrin and deploying anti-aircraft defences to fend off the Turkish warplanes. Syria has denounced the Turkish incursion but it had taken no steps that could lead to a major clash with Turkey in Afrin apart from allowing the Kurdish militias to cross over from one section of Rojava to another.

All of this may be linked to the downing of the Russian jet on patrol over the Idlib de-escalation zone. The pilot, Major Roman Filipov, ejected before the plane crashed and later engaged in gun-fight with the Islamic fanatics on the ground. He eventually blew himself up with a grenade to avoid being captured by the terrorists. Russian jets retaliated immediately after the fate of their pilot was confirmed by destroying a Nusra terror base in Idlib.

The terrorists belonged to the Nusra Front, a former branch of Al Qaeda, that once had close links with the Turkish regime. Their main role, the Russians say, is to try to derail the Russian-sponsored peace process in Syria’s de-escalation zones by squeezing the moderate opposition out. In Moscow General Igor Konashenkov said : “This confirms our fears that the terrorists of Al-Qaeda’s offshoot have become an obedient tool in the hands of one or a number of technologically advanced countries that are dissatisfied with Russia’s key role in liberation of Syria from ISIS.”

Russia is taking decisive action to stop terrorist activity in Syria in response to the downing of the Russian Su-25 jet in Idlib, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

“When President Vladimir Putin spoke about the completion of the active stage of the operation to support the armed forces of Syria in their counter-terrorism work, he said that the ready and remaining potential of the Russian armed forces in the areas of their temporary deployment is sufficient to conduct devastating retaliation. We are talking about exactly such surgical strikes, “ Peskov told journalists.