Turks ‘recruit’ Isis to fight Kurds
An Islamic State source has reportedly claimed that Turkey is recruiting and retraining former members of the displaced jihadist movement to lead its invasion of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria.
Ankara says the Turkish-led campaign is aimed at establishing a so-called security zone that would push the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) about 30km from its border.
“Most of those who are fighting in Afrin against the YPG are Isis, though Turkey has trained them to change their assault tactics,” said Faraj, who claims to be a former Isis fighter from northeastern Syria.
He was quoted saying by the Independent: “Turkey at the beginning of its operation tried to delude people by saying that it is fighting Isis, but actually they are training Isis members and sending them to Afrin.”
And members of a US-backed force of Syrian fighters, who played a critical role in the collapse of Isis, have begun leaving that operation to counter Turkey’s offensive against the Kurds, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Around 6,000 Turkish soldiers and 10,000 Free Syrian Army [FSA] members crossed into Syria on January 20, with the stated aim of driving the YPG out of Afrin.
The FSA is an umbrella grouping of non-Islamist Syrian rebels once backed by western nations during the seven-year civil war.
Syrian opposition forces are struggling to stay relevant in a country carved into spheres of interest by major powers. The groups been beaten by the Russian-backed government, abandoned by the US and defeated by Isis.
And now nearly 10,000 opposition members are apparently fighting alongside the Turks.
The groups only control small patches of territory, most of which is under threat, but now have an opportunity to hold new ground and support from the Turkish air force .
But most of its fighters taking part in Turkey’s unfortunately named “Operation Olive Branch” are estimated to be ex-Isis.
A video online shows three uniformed jihadis singing in praise of their past battles and “how we were steadfast” at Grozny in Chechnya, Dagestan in the Russian north Caucasus and Tora Bora, the former headquarters of Osama bin Laden. “And now Afrin is calling to us,” they chant.
Isis has recently shown signs of revival in Syria and Iraq, assassinating opponents and launching guerrilla attacks in poorly defended places.
The Kurdish YPG. Picture credit: Wikimedia