News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
According to an article in today’s Özgür Gündem, Turkey is preparing a major new offensive to strike at Serêkaniyê. Turkish planners have moved hundreds of reinforcements from Damascus, Rakka, Idlib, Hama, Aleppo and Deyr Ezor toward the city and the nearby village of Til Koçer. The fighters themselves are members of groups such as al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and other affiliates of al-Qaeda. Turkey is known to be publicly backing such groups both in its fight against the Assad regime and in its attempt to destroy the revolution in Rojava. Such groups have been accused of numerous atrocities against civilians in the past. The YPG is aware of such movements and is preparing accordingly.
Serêkaniyê is an important city both for its place in Kurdish history and its status as a symbol of intercommunal brotherhood in Rojava, where peoples of different faiths and ethnicities have fought together against foreign-backed militias and in support of the revolution. Such militias have been working together with Turkey to occupy the city since the revolution began in Syria in March 2011. Since the revolution in Rojava last summer there have been four major battles between these militias and the YPG. The city was finally liberated from Turkish-supported militias this past July. However al-Qaeda affiliates continue to maintain a presence in certain villages in the region – such as Til Xelef, only 4 km from the city -and have a number of bases directly across the border in Turkey.
The liberation of Serêkaniyê by YPG forces in July greatly upset the policies of regional powers towards Syria. In order to regain their control over the region a major new offensive is now being organized. In addition to the hundreds of reinforcements from around the region, eight tanks and tens of machine-gun mounted vehicles have been moved into positions around the city in the vicinity of the villages of Til Xelef, Mişrafa, Çava and Eloka. The al-Qaeda militias are receiving material support from two principal points. The first source is the Turkish border, while the second is the border with Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkey is known to have opened a number of new crossings over its border with Rojava’ and to be supplying al-Qaeda affiliated militias with ammunition and other provisions. However advances by the YPG over the month of August pushed such groups out of much of the Al-Jazeera region (near the border with Iraq) of Rojava.
The goal of the offensive is to regain control of the border area from the YPG. Al-Qaeda affiliated militias have been crossing into Rojava under the supervision of Turkish soldiers, and most recently on the 15th of September up to 30 km of fencing was removed along the border zone to the east of Serêkaniyê to allow for easier crossing. Troop movements have also been noted on the Turkish side of the border and as of today preparations are continuing.