News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
The balance in Northern Syria could be changing as forces affiliated with the HSD close in on the town of Azaz, report Newroz Osman and Sevin Osman in an article for ANHA carried by Özgür Gündem.
The town of Azaz, located across the border from Kilis, is a critical arms and supply corridor between Turkey and Syria. Currently the town is under control of Al-Qaeda affiliates such as al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham. However the balance in the area is changing as groups affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (HSD) have made advanced toward the town.
On January 3rd fighters affiliated with the Jaysh al-Thuwar (Army of Revolutionaries), a subgroup within the larger HSD, captured the strategically important village of Kishtear to the south of Azaz. Fighters affiliated with Al-Qaeda had been using positions around the village as a staging area from which to attack the Efrin Canton of Rojava.
According to a ANHA reporter on the ground in the region fighters with al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham launched an attack from Kishtear – 12km to the southwest of Azaz – against the village of Tinib which had only recently been liberated by the Jaysh al-Thuwar on the evening of January 2nd. Clashes continued through the night and fighters with the Jaysh al-Thuwar managed to counterattack and to liberate Kishtear by morning. Work continues to remove explosive ordinances as the area had been heavily mined by al-Qaeda fighters.
Ahrar ash-Sham and al-Nusra Front are the strongest groups in Azaz. However ISIS fighters are also approaching the town from the Savran region.
The route through Azaz is as important as through Jarabulus. Local militant groups are using the route between Azaz and Mare to ferry fighters and supplies from Turkey through the Öncüpınar-Bab El Selam border crossing. Local militias are heavily influenced by Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood ideologies which are not as popular among local people, who these groups control through fear and blackmail. If the HSD are able to liberate a few more villages the balance in the region could quickly change.
Meanwhile HSD forces in the Cizre Canton cleared the village of Musteriha in the district of Ayn Isa to the south of Girê Spî (Til Abyad) of all remaining ISIS fighters. Heavy fighting continues in the area around the village of Heşe.
The Jaysh al-Thuwar
The Jaysh al-Thuwar was formed in May 2015 from the groups Jabhat al-Akrad, Şoreşgerên Humis, Shams El-Shamal, Tabûra Çalakiyên Taybet, Foc 777, Battalion 99, and Battalion Sultan Selîm. The Jaysh al-Thuwar joined the Syrian Democratic Forces (HSD) shortly after it was formed in October of 2015.