Syria Kurds ask Russia for arms, coordination

YPG fighter. (AFP/Delil Souleiman)

BEIRUT – The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) has asked Russia to support it in its fight against ISIS as well as the Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front.

YPG chief Sipan Hemo told Sputnik Türkiye—which is owned by Moscow—that his fighting force requested arms from Russia as well as general military coordination, according to a translation of the interview prepared by Turkey’s Anadolu news agency.

“He also called on Moscow to bomb Al-Nusra Front’s positions,” Anadolu added a day after Russia began its airstrikes in Syria on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad regime.

In turn, the report added that a foreign relations official for the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party—which controls the YPG—said his party was “ready to cooperate with any actor fighting ISIS.”

“We are currently receiving support from the US and the [Iraqi Kurdish] Peshmerga,” Idris Naasan added.

Syrian Kurds have been rolling back ISIS across large swathes of territory in northern Syria with the assistance of US airstrikes, while also fighting Nusra in the Kurdish-populated Afrin region northwest of Aleppo.

The YPG commander’s comments come after a pro-Hezbollah Lebanese daily reported in late September that Russia had set up a coordination process with Kurdish forces and parties in northern Syria.

“A Russian military delegate paid a secret visit to a number of Kurdish military commanders in Hasakeh and inspected areas of confrontation between the YPG and the armed groups,” the Al-Akhbar article said.

Moscow announced Wednesday that it had begun its air strikes in Syria, insisting it hit “eight ISIS terror group targets,” while rebel groups, the US and France all said Russia had not bombed the extremist group.

On Wednesday morning, activists and rebels said that state-of-the-art Russian fighter jets had conducted bombing runs on Lataminah, a town northwest of Hama, as well as a region north of Homs, neither of which are ISIS strongholds.

Syrian state TV, for its part, reported that Russian jets hit ISIS targets near Homs’ Rastan and Talbisah—where ISIS does not have a presence—as well as areas near Hama’s Salamiyah, where the group does maintain frontlines with regime troops as well the Nusra Front.