After Kobane, Syrian Kurdish city of Afrin under threat of al-Qaeda

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Militants of al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra), al-Qaeda branch in Syria. File photo

ARA News

Afrin, Syria – Hevi Mustafa, head of the Executive Council of the city of Afrin in northwestern Syria, said that the Western powers which launch airstrikes against the radical group of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) in the city of Kobane” should be prepared to help another Kurdish besieged by Islamist militants, which is Afrin, the third largest Kurdish city in Syria”.

The Islamic State militants have besieged Kobane for months, and the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes were the only way to prevent the advance of the militants as well as bolster the Kurdish resistance on the ground led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), and later supported by Iraqi Kurdistan’s Peshmerga. 

Afrin (200 km to the west from Kobane) is among the three Kurdish self-ruled areas announced earlier this year.

“Afrin will face the fate of Kobane by the al-Nusra Front militant group (the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda), but if they surround Afrin we are ready to defend ourselves,” Mustafa stated during a visit to the Turkish capital Ankara to draw attention to the situation of Afrin.

“We are grateful for the efforts of the international community in Kobane but it came too late. We need urgent support in Afrin to prevent a scenario scenario to Kobane,” she told Reuters.

“The Syrian government forces did not intervene directly in the three major Kurdish areas (Qamishli, Kobane and Afrin), which gave us the opportunity to enjoy relative calmness amid the ongoing war in the country,” she added.

The Islamic State’s militants attacked Afrin last year, but they were repelled by Kurdish forces; however, the area is currently besieged by militants of the al-Nusra Front.

Recently, the al-Nusra Front signed an agreement with other armed groups in the area and advanced 25 kilometers towards Afrin. The Kurdish self-rule administration expressed its concerns about possible assaults by the militant group. 

Mustafa called on the international coalition’s forces to coordinate with the Kurdish fighters in Afrin and launch strikes against Islamists before they attack the city, demanding that Turkey open a border crossing to allow the flow of aid to the area.

On the other hand, Ankara strongly opposes any kind of autonomy for Syrian Kurds, accusing them of having links with the Assad regime, but Mustafa responded to the Turkish allegations, denying any links with the Assad regime.

“We avoid confrontation with the Syrian regime, and this claim is an attempt to discredit the Kurds,” she said. “We are fighting against the regime in a different way; we are trying to build a democracy in our areas and all of  Syria.” 

“Our Kurdish forces are prepared to defend Afrin as we did Kobane; we don’t like war, we want the Western powers to intervene,” Mustafa said. 

 

Reporting by: Lorin Efrini 

Source: ARA News 

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