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Aleppo rebels warn Kurds

Opposition factions issued a 24-hour ultimatum for Kurdish civilians to leave areas recently seized by the YPG and Jaysh al-Thuwar.

North Aleppo rebels. (YouTube/Unified Military Council of Northern Aleppo)

BEIRUT – Rebel groups based around Aleppo have issued a 24-hour ultimatum to Kurdish civilians in northern Syria to withdraw from towns seized in recent weeks by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Jaysh al-Thuwar.

 

statement issued midday Wednesday under the banner of the Free Syrian Army called on “the honorable Kurds” in the de-facto autonomous Afrin canton northwest of Aleppo city and surrounding areas “to put pressure on those gangs to withdraw from those violated towns.”

 

“Otherwise our fellows the honorable Kurds in Afrin should distance themselves from the places where those terrorist gangs and their civil and military leadership are based, which we declare military zones, out of concern for the lives of our brothers the Kurds, and this is within period of no more than 24 hours from the date of this statement’s issue.”

 

YPG and Jaysh al-Thuwar fighters seized a swathe of opposition-held territory north of Aleppo after a regime offensive in early February 3 isolated rebels within a thin corridor of territory stretching up to the Turkish border.

 

Turkey reacted furiously to the advances, including the seizure of the Mennagh airbase and Tal Rifaat, and began shelling YPG and Jaysh al-Thuwar troops, which are now on the outskirts of the strategic rebel-held towns of Marea and Aazaz.

 

Opposition forces, for their part, have accused the Kurds of coordinating with the Syrian regime and Russia to push back rebel lines, while the YPG says it is “liberating” villages from the Nusra Front, despite the Al-Qaeda affiliate not being present in the area.

 

In their statement Wednesday, the Aleppo rebels reiterated accusations that the YPG and their ethnic Arab allies in the Jaysh al-Thuwar were committing “crimes against humanity” and “ethnic cleansing operations.”

 

The statement did not provide a list of factions signing onto it, saying only that it had been issued by “the rebels of the violated areas in Aleppo and its countryside.”

 

However, a commander in the Levant Front based in northern Aleppo told ARA News that Ahrar al-Sham and the FSA-linked First Regiment and 16th Infantry Division, among others, had issued the statement. ​

 

NOW’s English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Ullin Hope (@UllinHope) translated the Arabic-language source material.

North Aleppo rebels. (YouTube/Unified Military Council of Northern Aleppo)

Our fellows the honorable Kurds in Afrin should distance themselves from the places where those terrorist gangs and their civil and military leadership are based.