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Kurds striving for the Mediterranean

Can the Syrian Kurds to disrupt the agreement in Astana.

After taking Raqqa militia Syrian Kurds intend to attack the west, the Mediterranean Sea, and Deir ez-Zor. In this part of the Deir ez-Zor and the coast of the Mediterranean controlled by the forces of Bashar al-Assad. Can the Kurds and their main allies - the United States - to disrupt the de-escalation of the conflict in Syria, versed "Times".

The English edition of the Observer published excerpts from an interview with Hadia Youssef, co-chair of the Federation of Northern Syria. The Federation was proclaimed about a year ago by Syrian Kurds and allied Arab and Assyrian organizations in the territories under their control. Today, the Federation occupies almost a quarter of the territory of Syria. Its armed formations, consisting mainly of Kurdish militias YPG and YPJ (Women's Self-Defense Forces), with the support of US aviation and special forces, are launching an attack on the capital of the Islamic State (IG), the city of Rakka.

According to Yousef, the taking of Raqqa, the capital of the IG - it is only a matter of time. So now there is a legitimate question: where the Kurds are going to go next?

To the seashore

"Reaching the Mediterranean Sea - is our legitimate right, it is a part of our project to the north of Syria" - said Youssef. On the way to the Mediterranean Sea Kurds are the areas under the control of groups of so-called moderate opposition in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib and Latakia province directly on the coast - the bulwark of the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The need for access to the sea is dictated, according sopredsedatelnitsy Federation of Northern Syria, economic needs. From the north the territory of the Federation border with Turkey, which has declared the Kurdish armed groups in Syria, terrorist. At the beginning of the war in Syria, the Turks closed the border crossings controlled by YPG and YPJ. In the past two years on the border with Syria, Turkey to build the walls, to the early spring of this year, construction was completed.

Another neighbor federation - Iraqi Kurdistan, where the government is pro-Turkish Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). WPC strongly interfere with the free movement of goods and people to the Syrian Kurds. Although officially it was never announced, but actually KDP embargo imposed on their western neighbors.

The southern border areas controlled by the Syrian Kurds - is the fronts against the IG.

There are, however, a small portion of the territory, where Kurds are in contact with the forces of the Damascus government - not far from Aleppo. Not so long ago in this region for the first time with 2013 was opened transport links between the cities of Aleppo and Hasakah and Qamishli (in the north-east of Syria).

Between government forces and Kurdish relations neutral. In deep Kurdish rear, in the city of Qamishli, is an enclave of the Syrian army - and there are relatively calm. Inside the city of Aleppo occupied government army is a Kurdish enclave of Sheikh Maqsud where there including the armed forces YPG.

However, behind the Syrian Kurds now are the United States, that are not configured to cooperate with the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Moreover, Youssef says plainly that his promotion to the west Federation Northern Syria intends to rely on US aid. It is unlikely that the Americans will agree to their allies began to cooperate with the Syrian government - even economically.

There are no Kurds

Provinces and districts Idlib Latakia, which is separated from the sea Kurds, populated predominantly Arab population. In Idlib is a Sunni Arabs, in Latakia, most of the population are Alawites, Christians, there are communities of Armenians and Turkomans. Any significant Kurdish community there.

Initially, when it was proclaimed autonomy from the government in Damascus early 2014-th, Syrian Kurds set themselves the task to liberate from radical anti-government groups only area where their tribesmen live compactly. By the early 2016-th, this task was completed. Then the Kurds announced that they intend to release all the areas captured by the IG. Now, judging by the statements Youssef, Syrian Kurds plan is much broader than just the fight against militants IG.

It is difficult to judge what kind of mood now prevails in Idlib, which are based not only moderate groups, but also groups of "Dzhebhat en-Nusra" is banned in Russia a terrorist organization. However, it is safe to say that in Latakia about any "Kurdish liberation" of the locals do not dream. Latakia from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria has been a stronghold of Assad, not far from the provincial capital - Latakia - is the native village of the clan Assad.

Even when summer 2013-second anti-government forces attempted to invade Latakia from Turkey (which, according to the Syrian military, they attacked positions including helicopters of the Turkish army), they failed to achieve much success.

Militants captured only a few areas in the northeast of the province. With the support of the Russian aviation Syrian army liberated these areas at the end of the year 2015.

According to Yousef, another area where the plan to move the Kurds after the capture of Raqqa, - the city of Deir ez-Zor on the Euphrates River. Today, most of the city controlled by the militants IG. Syrian government troops controlled a small enclave in the province of Deir ez-Zor, adjacent to the Euphrates.

Government forces and tens of thousands of civilians under siege exactly three years. enclave supply is carried out exclusively by air.

Last summer, the Kurdish militia from the north came to Deir ez-Zora over a distance of 30-40 km. Since then, they have not moved further. Even during heavy fighting in the winter-2015 / 16, when the IG launched a massive offensive on the enclave, the Kurds have made no attempt to assist the besieged. According to witnesses who have been recently in the enclave and communicated with local residents and the military, local hopes of YPG and YPJ not impose. "They are under the Americans, we have no hope" - so speak about the Kurds.

However, Yousef believes that the Deir ez-Zor waiting for Armed Forces Federation of Northern Syria. Kurds are ready to provide the residents of Deir ez-Zor (like Raqqa) the right to hold a referendum - they want to be part of the federation or not.

If the Syrian Kurds will be able to really take the Deir ez-Zor and the surrounding area, then virtually all of the Syrian oil will be in their hands. Now they control the richest deposits in the north-east of the country near the town of Rumeylan.


May 5 signed in Astana a memorandum on areas of de-escalation in Syria between the representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran virtually defined spheres of influence of each of the three countries. It has played a positive role in reducing armed activity in the country, where war has been going on for six years.

Kurds are dissatisfied with the Memorandum, as their interests in the document will not be reflected. Statements Hadii Yusef followed soon after news of agreements in Astana.

Aside from the agreements were not only the Syrian Kurds, but also their key ally in the moment - the United States.

On the territory of the Federation Northern Syria today placed, according to various estimates, up to 1 thousand US troops. Also, there are special forces of Britain and France. The US military has previously stated that they intend to increase their troops in the Kurdish areas to 2,5 thousand.

With the reduction of the intensity of the fighting between government forces and radical groups, which Turkey supports, can be intensified clashes between government forces, on the one hand, and the YPG - on the other.

Friendship and enmity with Moscow

In the ranks of the Kurdish groups in Syria's unity with regard to Russia is still no.

This week, a member of the executive committee of the "Union of Kurdistan Communities" (an international civilian structure of the Workers' Party of Kurdistan) Reza Altun suggested that Russia was involved in the Turkish attacks against the Syrian Kurds.

Altoona quoted by the Kurdish news agency Firat.

According to Altun, Russia could allow the Turks to massively bombard the main headquarters of the YPG (Detachments of the People's Self-Defense of Kurds) 25 April as revenge for the bombing of the positions of the Syrian army by American aviation - it means the incident of last autumn when the US bombed the positions of the government army in Deir ez Zor . Following the bombing followed the offensive of the militants of the "Islamic state" (IG, the organization is banned in Russia). Altun also believes that Russia is assisting the Turks in their plans to occupy areas in the north of Syria.

However, formation, located in the district of Afrin, is now actively cooperate with Russia and government forces. Their representatives had no immediate comment on the statements by Youssef and Altoona.

A source: BBC

Author: Alexander Rybin

Tags: Syria, the Middle East, the Kurds, the IG, army, war in the Middle East, analysts

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