The “Syrian Kurds” Helped Assad Take Aleppo City

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 30, 2016

YPG flags flying with the Assad regime’s over Bustan al-Basha, Aleppo city, 28 November 2016

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on 28 November 2016 about the assistance provided by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—which operates in Syria under the banners of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)—to the forces fighting in the name of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, led by Iran on the ground and supported by Russian airstrikes, to crush the Syrian rebellion in Aleppo city:

On the fourteenth day of the escalation of shelling and military operations against the neighbourhoods of eastern Aleppo city, the entire northern part of the eastern Aleppo was cleared of rebel factions. The regime now controls from Aleppo International Airport [to the south-east] to Sakhour in the north-eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo. The neighbourhoods of Al-Haydariya and parts of the Shaykh Fares neighbourhood [further to the north in eastern Aleppo] have also fallen after intense aerial assaults by warplanes and helicopters, while the adjacent SDF-held areas, Bustan al-Pasha and al-Halak, were handed over to Syrian [regime] forces.

The regime forces took control yesterday, and in the few days that preceded it, of all the surrounding neighbourhoods … and the Syrian Democratic Forces took control of the rest of Bustan al-Pasha.

The regime coalition cut off the rebels’ main supply route from Aleppo city to Turkey on February 3, 2016, and the YPG/PKK used Russian airstrikes to attack ostensibly-U.S.-backed rebels on February 15-16 and seize the Arab towns of Tel Rifaat and Mannagh. The YPG/PKK then helped the pro-Assad coalition impose the siege of Aleppo city on 28 July 2016 by closing Castello Road. The insurgency briefly broke through the siege on 7 August, before it was re-imposed on 4 September, with the YPG continuing to man a crucial strategic location to maintain the blockade as the pro-Asad forces starved and bombarded the city into submission. The YPG then, as described above, took an active part in the final assault that massacred and conquered the city in the last few days.

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UPDATE: The Aleppo Media Centre confirmed that in a deal between the YPG/PKK and the pro-Asad coalition, the PKK had pushed out from its stronghold in Aleppo city, the mostly-Kurdish Shaykh Maqsud, and entered the adjacent zones of Bustan al-Pasha and al-Halak from one side as the regime came in from the other. The YPG admits to having done this, though claims it “opened a humanitarian corridor” by entering Bustan al-Pasha and al-Halak for 6,000 fleeing civilians. The rebellion in Aleppo city essentially collapsed between 26 and 28 November as the Asad-PKK dual offensive drove the rebels from thirteen districts. Which other neighbourhoods the YPG/PKK jointly attacked with the Asad despotism is unclear, but the accord reached between PKK and the pro-Asad forces stipulates that Bustan al-Pasha, al-Halak, Shaykh Fares, Ayn al-Tal, Baydin, and Zaytunat—all of which border the Shaykh Maqsud—will be delivered to the control of Asad and the Iranian militias, and in exchange the PKK will be allowed to retain control of Shaykh Maqsud itself.

UPDATE 2: On 19 December 2017, Asad regime flags were raised over Bustan al-Pasha, al-Halak, Shaykh Fares, and Shaykh Kheder, the YPG/PKK-held areas of Aleppo, under a negotiated settlement with the regime. In common with much of the Rojava statelet, the Asadist state institutions, particularly the schools, were allowed back in. The event was timed as part of the “celebrations” for the one-year of the crushing of Aleppo.