Syrian jihadist leader backs Turkish military operation against Kurds

3 years ago


(Ahval) - The head of Syria’s radical jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Abu Muhammad al-Jolani on Monday voiced his support of Turkey's plans to attack Kurdish militants in the country’s north, Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper reported.

Comments from Jolani, who heads a group dominated by members of the former Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria , arrive as Turkey threatens to launch a cross-border offensive, its third since the start of the war in Syria, against the U.S.-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which controls most of northeastern Syria.

Ankara has vowed to destroy the YPG, which it considers the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group that has been in war in Turkey for over three decades.  

While not offering direct military support, al-Jolani made clear he supported the YPG's removal from eastern Syria, where it has spearheaded the U.S. war on the Islamic State (ISIS), the Daily Star said.

"We consider the PKK to be an enemy of this revolution. It controls areas inhabited by large numbers of Sunni Arabs," al-Jolani told the HTS-affiliated Amjad media outlet, in reference to the YPG. "We are in favor of this region being liberated from the PKK."

HTS over the past week took full control the northern Syrian region of Idlib following deadly fighting with other factions backed by Turkey.

Analysts have asserted that the HTS struck a deal with Turkish-backed forces to take control of  Idlib, as part of a move to possibly clearing the way for Turkey to attack Syria’s Kurdish militia.

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