Redur Khalil, a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG forces

Published by Ekurd 25 February 2016

The powerful Kurdish YPG militia in Syrian Kurdistan will abide by a U.S.-Russian plan aimed at halting fighting in Syria, but reserves the right to respond if attacked, YPG official Redur Xelil told Reuters on Wednesday.

“We, in the People’s Protection Units (YPG), give great importance (to the plan), and we will abide by it completely, while reserving the right to respond to any aggressor in the framework of legitimate self-defense,” Xelil said.

The Kurdish YPG forces which the U.S. and Russia consider an ally in the fight against IS, is the most effective group fighting IS in Syria, as the Kurdish militia has seized swathes of Syria from IS.

The ceasefire deal was announced on Monday by Moscow and Washington but does not apply to the Islamic State group or Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, and is due to take effect at midnight on Friday Damascus time.

Turkey defied international calls and keeps shelling Kurdish fighters in Syria for the past week, insisting it would not allow Kurdish-led forces to seize key areas along the border.

Moscow considers Turkey’s actions against Syria to be aggression, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

“Ankara is aggravating the situation on the Syrian-Turkish border and carries out provocations, though those actions aren’t just provocations, but aggression on all counts,” Zakharova said in an interview with Russia’s Argumenty i Fakty (Arguments and Facts) newspaper.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said Syria ceasefire must exclude Kurdish militia and they must remain outside the scope of a ceasefire agreed between Syria’s warring parties, in a blow to the deal days before it is due to be enforced.

US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said on Wednesday what we’ve said, and we’ve said this last week as well and our policy has not changed, is that we believe the YPG is not affiliated with the PKK.

Turkey fears the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syrian Kurdistan — similar to the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq — would spur the separatist ambitions of Turkey’s own Kurds numbering to 22.5 million of the country’s 78-million population.

The YPG has been an important partner for the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria, but has also been fighting Syrian insurgent groups in northwestern Syria near Aleppo in recent weeks. Islamic State is not included in the “cessation of hostilities” agreement.

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebel groups accepted a plan for a cessation of hostilities to begin on Saturday and the United States warned it would be hard to hold the country together if the fighting did not stop.

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