Syria’s Kurds seem to abandon US ally by agreeing on setting up a base with Russia

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara deems a ‘terrorist’ group [EPA: File]
The Syrian Kurdish YPG militia said Russia was setting up a military base in northwestern Syria under a bilateral agreement and will help train its fighters – a step that would anger Turkey as it tries to block Kurdish gains near its borders.

The Russian defense ministry, however, said it had no plans to open any new military bases in Syria; it said a branch of its “reconciliation center”, that negotiates local truces between the warring sides in Syria, had been located in Aleppo province near Afrin.

One of the major forces in the Syrian conflict, the YPG is also a military ally of the United States and is playing a major part in U.S.-backed operations against Islamic State in areas of Syria further to the east.

YPG spokesman Redur Xelil told Reuters the agreement had been concluded on Sunday and that Russian troops had already arrived at the position in the northwestern region of Afrin with troop carriers and armored vehicles. “It is the first (agreement) of its kind,” he said in a written message.

Such an agreement would further illustrate how the Syrian Kurds have managed to bring both Washington and Moscow onto their side after showing themselves as an organized force able to confront jihadist groups and take back territory from Islamic State.

A Russian deployment would help deter cross-border attacks against the Kurdish-dominated area of Afrin from Turkey, which is hostile to the YPG, seeing it as an arm of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that is pressing an insurrection in Turkey.

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