Pentagon downplays conflict between Assad forces, PYD

US official concerned about PYD attacks on opposition groups

Pentagon downplays conflict between Assad forces, PYD

World Bulletin / News Desk

There is “very limited” military engagement between a Kurdish militant group and Syria’s government, a U.S. defense official said Wednesday.

But Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for the anti-ISIL coalition, claimed that the Kurdish group attacked moderate opposition strongholds in northern Syria to block movement of Syrian regime forces to the north.

“I think one of those barrel bomb strikes conducted by the Syrian regime, you know, a Syrian helicopter, was against Afrin Kurds. But it has been very limited,” Warren said while leaving unanswered questions as to how the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad could spare Kurds while blocking their movement to moderate opposition strongholds in the north.

Warren’s comment came after Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar al-Jafari said the U.S.-backed Kurdish rebel group is also supported by the Syrian regime.

Speaking to Pentagon correspondents via a videoconference from Baghdad, Warren denied Jafari’s comments that claimed the Kurdish rebel group was trying to block Assad regime’s movement toward the north of Aleppo to fight opposition groups.

“Afrin Kurds began moving from west to east in an effort to prevent the regime forces from being able to push any further north,” Warren said, referring to a recent offensive by the PYD against the cities of Tal Rifat and Azaz held by U.S.-backed opposition groups.

Concurrently with Russian airstrikes in northwestern Syria in recent weeks, regime forces and the military wing of PYD, known as the YPG, have attacked villages and towns held by opposition groups in the northern outskirts of Aleppo.

Following a tough street fight between YPG militants and moderate opposition groups, most of Tal Rifat town fell to YPG. Turkey considers the PYD and its military wing, YPG, as an extension of the PKK terrorist organization, so designated by the U.S. and European Union.

The Turkish military has been shelling YPG positions as the militant group moves toward Azaz and Ankara has been calling on the U.S. and other allies to halt support for the group, pointing out that it seeks political and military gains rather than fighting ISIL.

Acknowledging U.S.-backed groups are fighting each other, Warren noted Washington’s concerns.

“But we certainly understand it. You know, this is a civil war,” Warren said “Civil wars are messy; civil wars are complicated; civil wars have friction; civil wars have confusion, and that's what we see playing out here,” he said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Şubat 2016, 09:14