US didn't battle ISIL, helps Kurds connect cantons

Pentagon data shows vast majority of coalition air support given to Kurdish rebels, very little to Syrian opposition groups

US didn't battle ISIL, helps Kurds connect cantons

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Pentagon data on U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syria shows that of nearly 1,800 strikes, at least 1,200 have supported Kurdish supporters connect the self-declared “cantons” in northern Syria.

According to data from the U.S. Central Command in the last 10 months, the alliance has conducted a total of 4,624 airstrikes against ISIL targets – 2,850 inside Iraq while 1,774 in Syria. The U.S. has conducted 3,596 of the strikes with 1,930 in Iraq and 1,666 in Syria.

The remaining 1,028 airstrikes have been conducted by coalition partners Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, Netherlands, UK, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

Coalition forces have coordinated airstrikes inside Iraq with the Iraqi government, but in Syria there is no single force contributing to intelligence sharing for ISIL targets which raises the question about how the coalition is conducting airstrikes inside the country.

Unlike in Iraq, anti-ISIL forces in Syria are diverse with different agendas that caused the U.S. to drag its foot on conducting airstrikes there.

The strikes on ISIL targets in Syria began in September, one month after similar action in Iraq, following weeks of debate in the U.S.

The debate about airstrikes in Syria has heated up as the Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD's military wing – People Protection Units, known as YPG – recently captured the northern Syrian city of Tell Abyad and allegedly forced local Arabs and Turkmens from their lands while uprooting ISIL from the last piece of Syrian land bordering Turkey.

PYD is considered by Turkey as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) that has fought against Turkey for decades.

By capturing Tell Abyad, Kurdish forces connected the two pieces of land they have controlled in northern Syria along the Turkish border, which Kurdish rebels call Jazirah and Kobani “cantons”.

Last year, Kurdish rebels declared three areas in northern Syria as Kurdish "cantons". They call the area around al-Afrin city in the northwest corner “Afrin Canton”; the area around the city of Ayn al-Arab, a few hundred miles east of al-Afrin as “Kobani Canton” and the area covering the cities of Tal Hamees, al-Hasakeh, al-Qamisli and Ra'sal Ayn as “Jazirah Canton”.

It’s no secret that the success of YPG in connecting the forces in these two areas is due in part to the intense coalition airstrikes. But Syrian opposition groups that are also fighting ISIL and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, claim that Kurdish rebel groups have exploited the airstrikes for political motivations in northern Syria.

The groups say Kurdish forces are lining up in the north to found a Kurdish state or a full autonomous region.

More than a dozen Syrian opposition groups released a statement last week accusing the PYD of ethnically cleansing Turkmens and Sunni Arabs.

"YPG forces have implemented a new sectarian and ethnic cleansing campaign against Sunni Arabs and Turkmens under the cover of coalition airstrikes, which have contributed to the bombardment, terrorizing civilians and forcing them to flee their villages," according to the statement.

The U.S., which supports PYD under the pretext of fighting ISIL, has avoided helping other Syrian opposition forces, the statement noted.

Of the 1,774 airstrikes in Syria, the coalition has conducted 1,187 in the areas where the Kurdish YPG group has been fighting.

A Pentagon official told Anadolu Agency that the coalition had been trying to cut off supply lines to ISIL’s self-declared capital of al-Raqqah in northeastern Syria, as well as choke the group inside Syria to prevent the militants and equipment from moving into Iraq.

As the Kurdish forces lined up in northeast Syria, they contributed to the strategy of cutting off the supply lines in the north, according to the official.

But he noted the increasing visibility of the militant group's targets in Kurdish-controlled areas and Kurdish fighters’ willingness to battle ISIL also contributed to the coalition's decision to intensify airstrikes in these areas.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Haziran 2015, 09:56