ARA News − Exclusive
The Syrian Revolution started as a peaceful popular movement in 2011 and lasted non-violent for more than six months, later the situation accelerated to take another phase where the formation of military battalions and brigades became inevitable.
Bassam Haj Mustafa, the General Commander of the Youssef al-Azma brigade (working under the umbrella of the Kurdish forces of Komala−linked to the FSA), explained his view on the conditions that led to the formation of those forces in an exclusive interview with ARA News.
“Since the start of the ongoing revolution, just like the rest of the Syrians, we held weapons to defend ourselves and protect the demonstrations that erupted in Syria since 2011. As the conditions became hard and unbearable, the revolution turned into an armed rebellion. We participated and realized that we must not move back and forget about our martyrs, that would be slavery,” Haj Mustafa said.
According to Youssef al-Azma Commander, several Kurdish armed brigades were formed and worked under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
“Armed battalions emerged gradually under the name of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) including Kurdish ones. Current Kurdish brigades under the FSA command include Saladdin, Azadi, Abna Saladdin, and Youssef al-Azma,” Haj Mustafa added.
He told ARA News: “Now we have several brigades consisting of many fighters, they have been mostly united under the name of ‘al-Komala’ forces that keep track of the Syrian Kurdish Revolutionary Council, which represents all Kurdish revolutionary factions in Syria.”
Relations with the PYD, the Turks and the Kurdish Islamic Front:
On the “complicated” relation between al-Komala (military umbrella to Kurdish brigades in the FSA) and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD)−as both sides accuse each other of ‘treachery’, Haj Mustafa said: “The brigade of Jabhat al-Akrad was founded and supported by the PYD, that’s why they shared the confiscated belongings and assaulted the Syrian rebels.”
According to Haj Mustafa, the FSA clarified its position regarding the PYD and its armed forces, describing the latter’s forces as “gangs involved in shedding the Syrian blood”.
“We are fighting in the northern suburb of Aleppo to defend the area from any attacks either by the regime or the PYD forces,” he said. “The PYD leadership accuses us of serving a Turkish agenda, but they need to understand that we are serving the aspirations of our people, Kurds and all Syrians, and we are willing to deal with anyone who would provide us with unconditional support in our revolution.”
Regarding the Turkish support to his brigade, Haj Mustafa denied these “rumours”, saying that they are “nonsense accusations” and he is not willing to comment on that.
On identifying the sources funding the brigade, he said: “we only rely on donations provided by the residents, military councils and the FSA leadership.”
About al-Komala’s links, Haj Mustafa continued: “we are proud of all the Kurdish rebels and al-Mujahidin (the Jihadists), including the Kurdish Islamic Front which is formed by the Kurds who work for the elimination of tyranny within a moderate Islamic framework; we work in coordination with them both politically and militarily.”
In response to a question raised by ARA News about the areas where al-Komala brigades carry out their operations, Haj Mustafa said: “the forces of al-Komala participate in battles in main Kurdish neighbourhoods in Aleppo, including Ashrafiyeh, Sheikh Maksud, Khan al-Asal, and the Kiweris airport. We also carry out operations in the Kurdish villages in the northern countryside of Aleppo. We are planning to establish ‘civil administration’ in the liberated Kurdish areas inside and outside of Aleppo.”
The Commander added that as they participated in the Battle of Sada al-Qusayr, the “gangs of the PYD” (referring to the PYD’s armed forces) attacked the FSA fighters “in an attempt to help the regime forces”.
“When some armed groups decided to besiege the Kurdish city of Afrin, the PYD forces withdrew from the area,” he said, adding: “It was clear that the besiege on Afrin produced a group of mercenaries among the PYD fighters making use of the Kurdish blood.”
On the recent clashes between the PYD forces and the Islamist groups of al-Nusra Front and ISIS, Commander Mustafa said: “We did not participate in the fighting in Tel Abyad and Sere Kaniye/Ras Al Ain. While in Tel Arran we backed the battalion of Azadi, but we withdrew later to avoid a Kurdish-Kurdish conflict. However, We are keen to balance the operations against the PYD in Kurdish areas to maintain civil peace.”
Al-Ashrafiyeh front and splits within the PYD:
Commenting on the clashes of the FSA and the PYD in the Kurdish neighbourhood of al-Asharafiyeh in Aleppo, Bassam Haj Mustafa said: “I participated in al-Asharafiyeh clashes since the beginning; our forces under the FSA leadership could win the battle after a series of fierce clashes.”
“The brigade of al-Akrad Front fled leaving significant losses behind, as 35 fighters got captured, many fighters defected from the PYD and more than 20 fell dead and injured. Meanwhile, 9 members of the PYD fighters fled to the barrier of the regime,” Haj Mustafa said.
Regarding the Sheikh Maqsud neighbourhood, Haj Mustafa told ARA News: “Cleaning the neighborhood is still continuing, 19 members of the PYD surrendered and clashes in the neighbourhood resulted so far in dozens of casualties.”
He concluded the interview by saying: “The PYD is able to manipulate facts, but it can never change the inevitable outcomes!”
Interviewed by: Jomard Afrini
Source: ARA News
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