YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have increased its attacks, which have been intensively reinforced by Russian air strikes, in a critical northern Syrian territory between Azez and Jarablus along the Turkish border.
The SDF - which was recently formed with the support of the US to fight DAESH terrorists - includes Jaysh al Thuwar, the Burkan al Firat Operations Center, the Al Sanadid Forces and the Brigade Groups of Al Jazeera, the Assyrian Military Council and the YPG’s female wing the YPJ, but its members largely consist of YPG militants.
YPG, which is the militant wing of PKK’s Syrian branch PYD, is able to expand its controlled territories in northern Syria after it captured Tel Abyad from DAESH on June 15 joining Kobane with Jazira.
Through attacking the areas between Azez and Jarablus, the YPG is now trying to extend its reach in northwestern Syria in an effort to join Afrin, another isolated YPG-controlled territory, with Kobane and Jazira.
On the other hand, DAESH has reportedly continued attacking a region between Azez and Marea controlled by Syrian opposition groups which is also laid out between Kobane and Afrin. The group already controls a zone from Jarablus to Mare along the Turkish border.
Both DAESH and PKK are recognised as terrorist groups by Turkey, NATO, the US, and EU. Turkish leaders have recently began to also call the YPG a terrorist organisation.
Turkey’s Anadolu Agency (AA) has reported that the YPG forces have recently been moving in two different directions under strong Russian military cover in the region between Azez and Jarablus in order to join Afrin with Kobane and Jazira which are located in northeastern Syria.
According to AA, PYD has been attacking opposition forces in Azez and at the same clashing with DAESH groups in Jarablus in order to pass to the west of Euphrates to reach the Azez-Marea line.
Turkey has previously declared that it will consider any incursion to the west of the Euphrates river in northern Syria along the Turkish border by PYD as a “violation of the red line” which was set by one of the recent National Security Council meetings.
Turkey has long argued to establish a safe zone between Azez and Jarablus along the Turkish border and urged US-led coalition forces to do it together.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared on Nov. 24 that, “Turkey will decisively clear a zone from Jarablus to Mediterranean coast from terrorist groups,” in a speech after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet over making an airspace violation in the region of the Turkmen mountain which is located in northwestern Syria near Turkish border.
The incident has caused a political crisis between the countries which have strong economic ties, leading Turkish and Russian leaders to issue warnings against each other.
Turkey and Russia have been in disagreement over the Syrian civil war. Turkey and the US-led coalition have consistently defended the bringing down of the Assad regime and backing opposition groups while Russia has supported the regime since the beginning of the conflict.
The existing disagreement has been worsened following the high-level Russian military intervention into the Syrian conflict.
In addition, Russia has recently waged heavy air strikes against Turkmen villages supported by the ground assault of forces loyal to Syrian regime leader Assad in the Bayirbucak Turkmen area in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border, escalating tensions with Turkey which has strongly protested the Russian bombardment of the area.
Media accounts have stated that Deir Cemal, Meryemeyn, Malikiye, and Ziyara towns, which are located in north of Aleppo and east of Afrin, have recently come under fire from YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces backed by heavy Russian air bombardment for the last five days.
"The PKK is cooperating with Russia against rebels, trying to cut the supply line to Aleppo," a recent Syrian opposition statement said.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu proclaimed in early July that the country will not let its connection to Aleppo be cut by any group following the intense clashes along the Turkish border between DAESH and YPG groups in northern Syria.