MESOP TODAYS REPORT : Fighting Expands Between Turkish-Supported Rebels & Kurdish-Led Force

28 Aug 2016 – By Scott Lucas – Fighting expanded in northern Syria between Turkish-supported rebels and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday, with SDF fighters killed and captured and Turkey suffering the first casualties of its intervention.Rebels clashed with units of the SDF near Jarablus, taking two villages to the southwest. Photographs showed the capture of two SDF troops, while pro-rebel outlets said several SDF soldiers were killed. One Turkish soldier died and three were injured when a rocket hit a Turkish tank in Jarablus. Claimed video circulated by a pro-Kurdish activist:

The Turkish intervention began last Wednesday, as tanks, artillery, and special forces joined rebels who crossed into Syria. Within hours, the force occupied the border town of Jarablus, as the Islamic State withdrew.

Rebels took at least five more ISIS-held villages to the west of Jarablus on Saturday.

Turkish officials said two F-16 jets bombed a site controlled by the Kurdish YPG, the militia which leads the SDF. The sources also said the jets hit six Islamic State targets.

The SDF’s Jarablus Military Council said the Turkish warplanes hit the village of Amarinah south of Jarablus, where there have been clashes since last Thursday. It said there were civilian casualties and called the attack “a dangerous escalation”.

After the fall of Jarablus, both Turkish and American officials said the YPG would withdraw east of the Euphrates. However, clashes soon began across northern Syria, with the SDF setting up military councils in both Jarablus and Manbij, the ISIS-held city that they captured last month.The Manbij Military Council promised on Saturday that it will support the Jarablus Military Council in resisting Ankara and the rebels:

Turkey has dangerously escalated its attacks by exploiting the silence of the world and international and regional temporary consensus for its blatant interference in Jarablus in order to obstruct the war on terror. Turkey has resorted to the policy of secret deals with terrorists to enter Jarablus without a fight.

Free Syrian Army fighters west of Jarablus: The SDF was created last autumn — with US weapons and special forces — to battle the Islamic State in northeast Syria. By December, it had crossed west of the Euphrates River, Turkey’s “red line” for Kurdish-controlled territory.

After months of US-Turkish negotiations, an offensive to take Manbij began in early May. However, Ankara remains hostile to the YPG and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), believing they are connected with the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK.