Syrian YPG militants took advantage of Russian air strikes and reportedly made gains in northern Aleppo on Thursday, as they continued to advance alongside the Turkish border.
Clashes reportedly took place between the militants and Syrian opposition groups over control of the village of Malikia, near the border town of Azez, an area where Turkey has proposed to establish a no-fly zone for Syrians displaced by nearly five years of war to end a refugee influx into Europe through Turkey.
The YPG is the Syrian affiliate of PKK which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey as well as the US and NATO.
YPG attacks Malikia village in an attempt to reach Bab alsalama crossing with Turkey to cut off the rebel supply lines.
— Abdurahman Harkoush (@Abduhark) November 26, 2015
If Azez falls to the YPG militants, who have been accused of committing war crimes against the minorities in the region by Amnesty International, they will be able to connect their canton in Afrin to their Kobane canton.
By creating a corridor to Afrin, the PYD will have complete control over the northern Syrian border with Turkey.
Their advances came as Russia carried out air strikes on opposition positions at the Bab al-Salam border crossing, a key supply route for the opposition.
Russia has been intensifying its air strikes in opposition-held territories around the Turkish border in recent days, having helped Bashar al Assad’s regime troops defeat local Turkmen forces in the Latakia Governorate.
On Wednesday, a humanitarian aid convoy was also hit in Azez, killing seven civilians and wounding ten others, just one day after a Russian warplane was downed by Turkey over violating Turkish airspace.
Russia has been carrying out air strikes in Syria in a bid to target DAESH positions, however, Turkey and the US accuse Russia of bolstering the Assad regime under the guise that it is targeting DAESH terrorists who took advantage of the power vacuum arising from the war which has claimed at least 350,000 lives
According to unconfirmed media reports, the main opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) has given the YPG two days to leave the villages of Maryamin, Anab, Shawaghra, Tanib, Kashta’ar, Mirash and Qanbriyah in northern Aleppo, after a day of fighting.
— Terrormonitor.org (@Terror_Monitor) November 26, 2015
A statement reportedly issued by the FSA on Thursday morning also gave the same ultimatum to Jaysh al Thuwar, a coalition formed in May with a number of small groups and local brigades previously aligned to the FSA.
Jaysh al Thuwar was involved in the YPG offensive against the Ahrar al Sham opposition forces as well as the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front in northern Aleppo on Thursday.
In March, this coalition successfully gained control of the Idlib governorate from the Assad regime.
However, control for Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, remains heavily contested, with the Assad regime, the opposition, the YPG and the DAESH terrorist group all vying for power.
Turkey has made no secret of its desire to establish a no-fly zone along its border with Syria in order to provide security for displaced Syrians in the country and keep away hostile groups such as DAESH and the YPG.
Turkey has long stated its opposition to the YPG taking control of northern Syria, which it calls Rojava, or western Kurdistan, where the PYD hopes to establish its Marxist-Leninist ideology.