Jaish al-Shamal, a small militant group affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), claimed responsibility yesterday for the assassination of two Kurdish officials in Afrin.
A spokeswoman known as Shirin, reported to be working with the YPG/J (although the PYD, the political party closely linked to the military group, denies this) was shot dead along with her assistant Ziyad Jafar by Jamil Karmo, who had previously fought alongside the YPG in northwestern Syria.
Graphic footage was released of the killings.
Karmo has been presented by some as a ‘sleeper agent’ for the small militant group.
According to some reports, he had previously fought with Jaish al-Thuwar, a group that once affiliated itself with the FSA but which then aligned itself with the YPG and joined YPG-led attacks on other rebel groups, including FSA units, north of Aleppo earlier this year.
This video purportedly shows him at a funeral of YPG soldiers killed in Afrin:
ARA News, a Kurdish news outlet, reported that Shirin and Jafar had been engaged in negotiations on the return of the bodies of 66 rebel fighters killed in battle.
According to the report, rebel groups fired “at least five rockets” at Afrin today, but caused no casualties.
The fighting between the YPG, Jaish al-Thuwar, and other opposition groups in the Aleppo area is a grave cause for concern, with the YPG-led offensive on Azaz earlier this year piling pressure on a narrow corridor of rebel territory trapped between forces allied to the Assad regime and the Turkish border. This led to widespread suspicions that the Afrin YPG was colluding with Russia and the regime in their attacks.
Meanwhile rebel Jaish al-Islam fighters are also reported to have conducted indiscriminate artillery bombardments of Kurdish areas of Aleppo city and even used chlorine gas in at least one attack earlier this spring, according to a recent Amnesty International report.
Meanwhile to the south and east regime-allied forces (led by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps), as well as ISIS, are pressing on the rebel positions, supported by Russian air power.
Internecine fighting between Arab rebel and Kurdish groups can only worsen the situation for the civilian population under fire in the north of Aleppo and may well develop into a longer lasting and more deadly conflict that could run parallel to both the wider Syrian war and the conflict between the Turkish security forces and the PKK, which has close links to the YPG.
ARA News reported that YPG and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) representatives had vowed to punish the perpetrators of yesterday’s killings, giving every reason to expect a further worsening of violence.
— Pierre Vaux
The fight for Palmyra, and the Shaer gas fields, is heating up. After having recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria, the Russian government took a victory lap by holding a grotesque charade — a concert to celebrate the defeat of terrorism — while new airstrikes, either launched by the Syrian military or by Russia, killed dozens of refugees in northern Syria:
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Russian T-90 A operating in Shaer Gas field, eastern Homs.
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The only ones with the ability to send messages out of this area, it seems, are the Russian and Syrian soldiers, and the ISIS fighters, and all three of them continue to pursue their own communication strategies that have little to do with truthful reporting.
Today, there are videos and pictures (which we cannot confirm) that reportedly show Russian air power operating near Palmyra: