MESOP Syria Daily: Kurds Take Rebel Territory in Northwest / GENERAL KIRBY’S MESSAGE

February 09 – by Scott Lucas – EAWORLDVIEW – Taking advantage of Russian airstrikes and a nearby regime-Hezbollah-Iranian offensive, Kurdish forces have taken rebel territory in northwest Syria.

The Kurdish militia YPG and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces moved into the town of Deir Jamal, in northern Syria on the Turkish border, and neighboring villages on Monday. While it is unclear if the Kurdish operations have been discussed with the Russians, who began their bombing of opposition areas from September 30, the advance is close to the offensive that has put pressure on rebels north of Aleppo city.Deir Jamal is south of the key border town of Azaz, west of the rebel frontline at Mare’ against the Islamic State, and north of Mayer and the regime of al-Zahraa, captured last week by the foreign-led offensive.The Russian militiary and Kurdish officials established contact inside in early February in northeastern Syria, where the Kurds have pushed back the Islamic State, as Russia moved into an airbase near Qamishli.

Representatives of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) are also opening an office in Moscow this week.

Some Kurdish factions are seeking territorial links between the Afrin canton in northwest Syria and the Kobani and Cezire cantons in the northeast.

The Turkish Government has warned the PYD — which it believes is dominated by the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK — against an advance near the border. On Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told the US that it must choose between alliance with Ankara and support of the PYD.

Since last autumn, the US has cut support to Syrian rebels and has backed the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, created in October. Washington has provided weapons, ammunition, and US special forces for the Kurdish offensive across northeast Syria.

The US officially lists the PKK as “terrorist”; however, State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Monday, “We do not recognize the PYD as a terrorist organization. We recognize Turks do.”

Kirby said consultations between the US and Turkey continue:

Look, even friends don’t agree on everything. And we’re friends and we’re not going to always agree on everything in this particular fight. And it’s a complicated struggle. We recognize that….

We are allies with Turkey and we’re going to continue to be so – no question about that at all.