UK uneasy after evidence of Syrian Kurdish coordination with Syria, Russia: Hammond
LONDON – Reuters
AFP photoThe U.K. said on Feb. 24 that it had seen “disturbing evidence” that Syrian Kurds are coordinating with the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and the Russian air force.
The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), gained ground in northern Syria while combatting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“What we have seen over the last weeks is very disturbing evidence of coordination between Syrian Kurdish forces, the Syrian regime and the Russian air force, which are making us distinctly uneasy about the Kurds’ role in all of this,” Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the British Parliament.
The Syrian Kurdish forces are seen as an important partner of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL. The U.S. especially expresses support – equipping and training but also supporting with airstrikes and other assistance – for the YPG and PYD, while Turkey designates the two groups terrorist organizations as it regards them to be offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The ongoing rift between Washington and Ankara over the Syrian Kurdish forces is continuing, with Turkey shelling YPG targets in northern Syria for over a week starting in mid-February.
Syria’s U.N. envoy Bashar Jaafari admitted on Feb. 16 that the PYD enjoyed the support of not only the U.S. but also the al-Assad regime.
“These Syrian Kurds supported by the American administration are also supported by the Syrian government, just for your kind information,” Jaafari told reporters following a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting on Turkey’s recent shelling of PYD targets in northern Syria, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The session, in which no action was taken, was held at the request of Russia.
“The victory achieved in the northern part of Syria, both by the Syrian army and the Syrian Kurds, is a joint victory for all the Syrians. Everybody is benefiting from the Syrian army’s direct support,” Jaafari said.