Syria Kurds accuse Turkey of
assassinating military commander

Abdel Sattar al-Jader was gunned down hours after he warned Ankara against backing a cross-border rebel offensive on Jarablus.

Abdel Sattar al-Jader. (image via ANHA news agency)

BEIRUT – Syrian Kurds have accused Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) of being behind the assassination of Abdel Sattar al-Jader, the head of a newly-formed military council backed by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) aiming to seize the ISIS-held border town of Jarablus.


The Jarablus Military Council chief was killed Monday in mysterious circumstances only hours after he read out a statement warning Turkey against backing a rebel offensive on Jarablus, a strategic town on the western bank of the Euphrates River that Ankara does not want to fall under the control of the Kurdish-led SDF.


Reports have emerged in recent days that Ankara has been transporting rebels from northern Aleppo and Idlib to a base across the Turkish border from Jarablus in preparation for an attack on the town, which lies far behind Syrian rebel’s current frontlines with ISIS in the northern countryside of Aleppo.


Amid the mounting preparations for the widely-anticipated offensive, including heavy Turkish shelling, the Jarablus Military Council—which was only formed over the weekend—said Ankara was transporting “mercenaries” across its border as part of a series of “accelerating hostile actions.”


“We warn the Turkish authorities of the consequences of aggressive practices against Syrian territories and [people], especially in our region of Jarablus,” Jader said in a video statement released Monday afternoon.


Later that day, the military commander—an ethnic Arab who formerly led the Martyr Abu Furat Brigades—was gunned down in Al-Shouyoukh, a town that lies across the Euphrates from Jarablus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


The monitoring NGO tracking developments in war-torn Syria did not go into further details on the circumstances of Jader’s death, but reported that the Jarablus Military Council accused Turkish intelligence of perpetrating the attack.


Meanwhile, the ANHA news agency, which is close to Syria's Kurdish fighting forces, said that Jader was fatally shot by a sniper in Al-Shouyoukh, adding that fighters in the Jarablus Military Council arrested two “agents” working for Turkish intelligence in connection to the assassination.


The Council launched an investigation into the incident and is expected to shortly release a statement on the matter, the report said.


The Kurdish Democratic Union Party also published the ANHA report on its official website, but has yet to issue an official statement on Jader’s killing.


Turkey, for its part, has yet to comment on the matter, however Yeni Safak—a daily supportive of the country’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)—claimed that Jader was killed by a local tribe member following a dispute.


Ankara’s military efforts in the Jarablus region continued late Monday, with a Turkish official saying the army was shelling ISIS as well as Kurdish positions to “open a corridor for moderate rebels,” the clearest indication yet a cross-border rebel offensive was nearing.


NOW's English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Amin Nasr translated Arabic-language material. 

Abdel Sattar al-Jader. (image via ANHA news agency)

We warn the Turkish authorities of the consequences of aggressive practices against Syrian territories and [people], especially in our region of Jarablus.