In Multipolarity

New Cold War.org, August 27, 2016. Three news articles published on August 27 are enclosed.

Kurdish-aligned group in north Syria says targeted by Turkish warplanes

By Umit Bektas, Reuters, Aug 27, 2016

Turkish army entering Syria (AP photo)

Turkish army entering Syria (AP photo)

KARKAMIS, Turkey – A group allied to Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said it was bombarded by Turkish warplanes on Saturday, after Turkey’s military launched an incursion this week into northern Syria against both Islamic State and Kurdish forces.

Turkish military sources said planes had hit an ammunition store south of Jarablus, but they did not give details.

If the jets struck targets linked to the Kurdish-aligned group, it would signal Turkey’s action against Kurdish-backed forces in Syria was being ratcheted up a notch.

The Jarablus Military Council, a group that is part of the Kurdish-backed SDF, said the jets hit a village south of the strategic town of Jarablus, causing civilian casualties. It called the action “a dangerous escalation”.

A Reuters witness in Karkamis, a Turkish town on the other side of the border from Syria’s Jarablus, saw warplanes flying from Turkish air space early on Saturday into Syria and then heard several blasts. The identity of the planes was not clear.

Syrian rebels [sic] backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes entered Jarablus this week, seizing the frontier town that had been an Islamic State stronghold. The rebel force backed by Turkey were largely Arab and Turkmen.

The Turkish campaign pre-empted action by Kurdish-backed forces which had sought to get to Jarablus first.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and other senior officials have made clear that the incursion is as much about pushing away Islamic State as it is about preventing Kurdish forces filling the void left as the Islamists withdraw.

Turkey wants to stop Kurdish forces gaining control of a continuous stretch of territory along its southern border, which Ankara fears could be used to support the Kurdish militant group PKK that is fighting an insurgency on Turkish soil.

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have extended their control beyond Jarablus, seizing five nearby villages from Islamic State, Turkish security sources said. The Turkish Red Crescent has distributed food in Jarablus since Friday, the sources said.

Rivalries and alliances

The Jarablus Military Council said the village of al-Amarna, which lies a few km south of Jarablus, was hit by the warplanes. In response to the Turkish strike, it said: “If they do not attack our forces, then we will keep the border strip secure.”

The newly formed Jarablus Military Council has said it was made up of people from the area with the aim of capturing the town and the surrounding region from Islamic State militants. However, the Turkish-backed rebels seized Jarablus first. The Jarablus Military Council has aligned itself with the SDF, which encompasses several militias including Arabs and the Kurdish YPG group.

The SDF alliance is backed by the United States, putting Ankara at odds with NATO ally Washington in the engagement in Syria, where a multi-faceted conflict has raged for five years. A complex web of rivalries and alliances has emerged from what began with an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al Assad, drawing in world powers and regional states.

On Thursday, a day after Turkey began its cross-border offensive, Turkish troops fired on U.S.-backed YPG forces, which is part of the SDF. Turkey’s state news agency described that salvo as warning shots. The use of Turkish warplanes against an SDF-aligned group would point to tougher action.

A Reuters witness in Karkamis heard blasts and smoke rising from the nearby Syrian village of Kivircik.

Several militias under the SDF banner pledged support to Jarablus Military Council after it reported the Turkish bombing. The Northern Sun Battalion, an SDF faction, said in a statement it was heading to “Jarablus fronts” to help the council against “threats made by factions belonging to Turkey”.

Tension has mounted in Syria’s Aleppo region in the past year between the U.S-backed Kurdish YPG force and its allies on one hand and Turkish-backed rebel groups on the other. The two sides have clashed on several occasions.


ISIS militants attack Kurdish positions, capture three villages in northeast Syria

ARA News, August 27, 2016

Map of Syria 3DERIK, eastern Turkey – Militant fighters of the Islamic State (ISIS) launched a new offensive against Kurdish headquarters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and gained positions in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province. ISIS militants bombed YPG security centres in the vicinity of Shaddadi city in Hasakah’s southern countryside and captured three villages, military sources reported on Friday.

“Daesh terrorists targeted YPG headquarters near Shaddadi with dozens of mortar shells, causing death and injury of a number of our forces,” a spokesman for the YPG told ARA News, using another name for ISIS. The radical group has reportedly seized control of the villages of Keshkesh, Jubour and Safiya, as well as some parts of the Azzawi town in Shaddadi countryside.

“Islamic State militants who participated in the offensive were heavily armed,” media activist Abdulkarim Yousef told ARA News in Shaddadi. “They initiated the operation by carrying out two car bomb attacks on YPG checkpoints, then started bombing the Kurdish headquarters with mortar shells,” the source reported.

In mid February 2016, Kurdish YPG units and allied fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the liberation of Shaddadi city in Hasakah province from the Islamic State’s (ISIS) militants after months of battles with the radical group. ISIS militants had evacuated their headquarters in Shaddadi under heavy bombardment by the Kurdish-Arab alliance of the SDF.

“More than 275 ISIS militants were killed and 33 ISIS vehicles were destroyed at the hands of the SDF fighters in the battle for Shaddadi,” the SDF spokesman Talal Silo had told ARA News at the time.

The progress came after the SDF units, supported by an air cover from the U.S.-led coalition, cut off the main supply route for the ISIS radical group in al-Hawl near Syria’s northeastern border with Iraq. However, since then, ISIS has been trying to infiltrate into the area, launching several car bomb attacks.

The SDF alliance also seized control of a key gas facility and main financial resource for the Islamic State (ISIS) radical group in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province in early February, 2016. The western-backed forces regained control of the Jibisa gas facility, located about 12km east of Shaddadi city in southern Hasakah.

Reporting by: Salim Faris and Ahmed Shiwesh


ISIS recaptures Al-Rai on Turkey-Syria border west of Jarablus

By Izat Charkatli, Al Masdar News, Aug 27, 2016

Aleppo, Syria (5:00 A.M.) – Just a few days following its massive retreat from the northeastern countryside of Aleppo, ISIS launched a large counteroffensive aimed at capturing the border town of Al-Rai and its surrounding towns.

The Islamic State’s tactical withdrawal from the Jarablus region of Aleppo allowed for the terror group to alocate many fighters for the capture of Al-Rai and its surrounding region as Kurds and Turkish-backed jihadists fight viciously against each other along the Turkish-Syrian border.

The astute IS retreat forced a direct confrontation between the YPG and the Turkish-backed FSA enabling the terror group the sufficient time and manpower to fortify its defense lines around Al-Bab, its administrative capital in Aleppo province and one of its last remaining strongholds there.

As of now, ISIS has succeeded in capturing the border stronghold with the group’s strategy seemingly more focused on expanding the border region around Al-Rai, an area much more easily defendable than Jarablus. Should the fanatical group build an expansive buffer zone around Al-Rai, it would ensure itself prolonged presence on the border and prove to be a considerable hurdle in the way of the Turkish-led invasion aimed at securing a corridor between Azaz and Jarablus.

Related commentaries:
Will Turkey’s Jarablus win lead to showdown with Kurds?, by Amed Dicle, Al-Monitor, August 25, 2016

Turkey’s incursion into Jarablus, northern Syria and demands that Kurdish forces retreat have shaken the balance of power in the region.

… Turkey has adopted a dual position of fighting against IS but also shelling the groups that inflict the heaviest blows against IS. As it sent FSA groups to Jarablus, Turkey, which claims that it is fighting IS in the city, shelled SDF and Kurdish forces’ positions in and around Manbij.

Turkey vows long fight in Syria, ARA News, Friday, August 27, 2016

CIZRE, Turkey – Turkish troops will remain in Syria for as long as it takes to “eradicate terrorists” on its southern border, the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a statement on Friday. “We will continue our operations (in Syria) until we fully guarantee security of life and property for our citizens and the security of our border. We will continue until Daesh (ISIS) and other terrorist elements are taken out,” the Turkish MP said…

Turkish military official blames Gulen movement infiltration for inaction against ISIS, report in Hurriyet Daily News (pro-Turkish gov’t outlet), August 27, 2016

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