The Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) launched a big counter-assault in the northwestern countryside of the Afrin region against the Turkish backed rebels in the Bulbul District on Thursday, but where is the YPG getting it’s weapons from? Sputnik spoke to Turkish military analysts to find the answer.
Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankin-Galloway responding to a question from a Hürriyet correspondent, on whether the armed forces of Turkey and the United States will clash in Manbij, and commenting on the situation around Afrin, said, “Those armed forces now in Afrin are not groups with which we cooperate in the fight against Daesh. We do not provide them with support in the form of weapons and do not engage in their training.”
Speaking to Sputnik Turkey about the possibility that the weapons in possession of the YPG can’t be purchased on the black market, security expert Mete Yarar said, “Is it possible to find in the world’s black market such anti-tank missile systems as Milan, TOW and AT4? Of course not. In recent days, the YPG from time to time publish images of weapons that are used in the Afrin area against Turkish tanks and military. We know that these weapons weren’t previously supplied by the US to the Kurdish forces to fight against Daesh. If these weapons are in the Afrin area, then the US statements that the “Democratic Union Party (PYD) uses these weapons only in the territories east of the Euphrates ceases to be valid.”
Yarar also noted that these weapons had been repeatedly used against Turkish soldiers in Turkey by the fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“We came across these weapons not only in the Afrin area. It was used earlier in Turkey in the districts of Çukurca and Şemdinli. As a result of the attacks by guided missiles released from these weapons, a large number of our military personnel were killed and wounded. Later these weapons were seized from terrorists during clashes. At the moment, it is being determined where are these weapons coming from, through the US or coalition forces,” Yarar said.
In his turn, ex-Lieutenant-General of the Turkish Armed Forces, Erdogan Karakus, stressed that many NATO countries, since 1984, have been supporting the PKK.
“The Germans, the French and the Italians since 1984 have provided the PKK with as much assistance as the US. In our military museum in Harbiye there’s an exhibition dedicated to the fight against terrorism. Back then, the PKK fighters could not produce explosives on their own, so many mines and ammunition came to them from Germany, Italy, France and other NATO countries. Some of them, after detection and neutralization, we placed as exhibits in the museum,” said Karakus.
According to Karakus, during the seven years of war in Syria, weapons freely moved from one region to another.
“Earlier, Afrin was in the hands of the Free Syrian Army, then it came under the control of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which transported the weapons it possessed. While Turkey didn’t begin the operation “Shield of the Euphrates,” it was not possible to trace exactly who and how moved through Northern Syria, let alone the flows of weapons. In addition, from time to time the PKK/PYD cooperated with Daesh,” he added.
“Summarizing, we can say that the delivery and transfer of weapons in this region isn’t very difficult. Prior to Russian military presence in the region, the weapons were delivered to Kurdish formations by airplanes landing at the local airfield, without any obstruction,” Karakus concluded.
Since January 20, Turkey has been conducting a military operation in Syria’s Afrin, an area is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces-affiliated and US-backed YPG militias, which Ankara considers to be linked with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging an armed conflict in Turkey seeking autonomy and equal rights for the Kurds in the country.
According to Ankara, Turkish army and its allied Free Syrian Army rebels won’t fight Damascus during the campaign, which in being conducted in respect of the Syrian territorial integrity. However, Damascus has firmly condemned the operation as an assault on Syria’s sovereignty. Moscow, in turn, has urged all the parties to exercise restraint and called for respect for Syria’s territorial integrity.
The Turkish military campaign in Afrin and nearby regions was launched after the US had announced its plans to train a 30,000-strong border force in northern Syria mostly from YPG fighters, which are considered as terrorists by Ankara. Washington’s move was harshly criticized by Turkey, with President Erdogan threatening to “strangle” the forming “terrorist army.” Within a week after the announcement, Ankara launched an offensive in Syria’s Kurdish enclave of Afrin code-named Olive Branch and aimed at eliminating terrorists in the region.