Mustafa al-Sheikh, the military council chief of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), has stated that the recent clashes in Aleppo between the members of the FSA and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political offshoot of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Syria, is the work of the Syrian regime, which aims to provoke Kurds against the Syrian opposition through the PYD.
The FSA, the most prominent of several armed groups fighting to overthrow embattled President Bashar al-Assad, and the PYD fought a rare battle in Aleppo's predominantly Kurdish neighborhood of Ashrafieh late on Friday, leaving 30 people dead.
Speaking to Today's Zaman, al-Sheikh, who defected from the Syrian army to join the FSA, described the clashes between the Kurds that support the terrorist PKK and the FSA as a result of the provocation of the Assad regime.
Mohieddine Sheik Ali, the head of the Kurdish Yekiti party, said the clashes broke out after the FSA entered Ashrafieh, violating “a gentlemen's agreement” not to go into Kurdish areas of Aleppo. He said 100,000 Kurds live in Ashrafieh and in the nearby Sheik Maksoud area.
During the clashes the PYD reportedly kidnapped 20 FSA members, while the FSA kidnapped 180 Kurds. The FSA chief stated that there were no other clashes after Friday's battle.
Al-Sheikh stated that Assad's regime was pushed to a corner after the FSA seized control of a large part of Aleppo and some parts of Damascus. “The regime wants to scare the Kurds and provoke them into an armed struggle with the FSA. This time the regime is using the Kurdish card to prevent the revolution,” said al-Sheikh, adding that the regime aims to provoke Kurds against the FSA.
“Assad tells the Kurds that ‘after the fall of my regime, your turn will come and the FSA, together with Turkey, will attack Kurds'”, said al-Sheikh, adding that the regime is acting as though it is protecting Kurds.
Al-Sheikh also added that this tactic by Assad's regime not only provokes Kurds against the FSA but also incites them against Turkey. “This is a big game planned by the regime. It is well known that the regime supported the PKK for many years. From the first day of the revolution, the regime brought thousands of members of the terrorist PKK from northern Iraq into Syria and also released those in Syrian prisons,” said al-Sheikh.
Al-Sheikh also stated that Turkey had opened its doors to Syrians fleeing from the war-torn country, adding that Syrians will never forget Turkey's assistance. “Turks and Syrians are inseparable,” said the FSA chief.
Turkey has said it will continue to keep its doors open despite the fact that the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has now exceeded 100,000, which was Turkey's “psychological threshold.”
Meanwhile, the PYD held the Kurdish National Council (KNC) in Syria responsible for clashes that occurred between the members of the FSA and the PYD last weekend.
The PYD has also accused the KNC of driving a wedge between the FSA and the PYD.
However, in a statement the KNC noted that “the PYD's clashes with the FSA just serve the interests of the Assad regime.”
The KNC is an organization that comprises a dozen Kurdish parties -- most of them having been banned during the 50-year rule of Ba'ath Party regime in Syria -- which formed a coalition last October under the auspices of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Massoud Barzani.
Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria and make up around 10 to 15 percent of the country's 23 million people. Most of them live in the northeastern province of Hasakeh near the border with Turkey, but large neighborhoods in Aleppo as well as the capital Damascus are Kurdish-dominated.