Van Wilgenburg – 19.3.2013 –  Nawaf Ragheb al-Bashir, allegedly leading Al Jazeera-Euphrates Liberation Front (FAEL) which was created in Turkey. It’s a secular Arab nationalist front allegedly created to fight against the PYD, but is now not that active anymore. Bashir’s tribe clashed with the PYD before in Aleppo, but then he appeared on a pro-PYD station pledging not to fight against Kurds. Later he was allegedly armed by Turkey to fight against the PYD, which Turkey denies. Now this front is not that active anymore, due to a ceasefire between YPG and other armed groups in Ras al-Ain.


 Free Syrian Army (FSA), the most prominent of several armed groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, gathered at a meeting held in Şanlıurfa on Sunday to determine a roadmap for the post-Assad era. Following the meeting, which was organized under leadership of the Şanlıurfa-based Arab Solidarity and Culture Association (ARAPDER) at the Harran Otel, participants published a joint declaration. Approximately 600 Turkmen, Kurdish, Arab and Christian representatives coming from Syria attended the meeting, which lasted for two days.

Rakam el-Hıdır, a member of the group identified as the Al Jazeera-Euphrates Liberation Front, according to the Anatolia news agency, read out the declaration. El-Hıdır stated that the meeting was held with the participation of all the groups in Syria to discuss the problems faced by the Syrian resistance, adding that the meeting also aimed to discuss and determine a roadmap for the post-Assad era.

“Our goal is to provide a military and civilian organization. Our aim is to unite the Al Jazeera-Euphrates Liberation Front with the other organizations inside and outside Syria to contribute to the resistance. We are planning to cooperate with those that have participated in the resistance in Syria. We want to continue our struggle while adhering to international law and the moral principles of religion, the military and ethics,” said el-Hıdır.

El-Hıdır also added that the Al Jazeera-Euphrates Liberation Front was open to cooperating with all insurgents on the ground, politicians and military figures who wish to contribute to the independence of the Al Jazeera-Euphrates region.El-Hıdır stated that for the success of the resistance, the group was also open to cooperation with Islamist groups that have not been involved in the bloody crackdown of the Syrian regime.

“We can find regional solutions with these groups to develop the Al-Jazeera-Euphrates region and solve the political, social and health problems of the region. We are against all organizations that promote terrorism, anarchy and sectarian discrimination,” said El-Hıdır.

In June, Şanlıurfa hosted a similar meeting attended by approximately 40 tribal leaders from the Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Deir al-Zor and Racca provinces of Syria.

Islamists Fighting Kurds in Syria Admit to Turkish Military Support

06/02/2013 05:50:00 By BRADOST AZIZI – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The leader of Islamists fighting Kurds in the Syrian city of Serekaniye (Ras al-Ain) admitted that Turkey was providing military support, and that forces had used heavy weapons. “Turkey is supporting us militarily, morally, and humanely,” said Nawaf Ragheb al-Bashir, whose Al Jazeera-Euphrates Liberation Front (FAEL) has been fighting in Serekaniye with forces of the armed Popular Protection Units (YPG).

“We are grateful to them,” Bashir said, about the help received from Turkey.

The YPG has been linked to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the most powerful Kurdish party in Syria, which has been accused of questionable ties to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.  The PYD in turn is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been locked in a decades-old war with Turkey. The fighting in Serekaniye has divided the opposition against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking to Rudaw by telephone, Bashir accused the YPG of starting the fighting.

“They started first. We announced a ceasefire after few days of fierce fighting, but PYG violated the ceasefire and killed 15 of our armed members,” he said.

The fight between the two groups has continued, with each accusing the other of fighting over a piece of land that has been free of Syrian regime soldiers. Bashir suggested that his group is affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the main Syrian opposition, which includes some Kurdish brigades and fighters. “Why does the YPG not fight the Syrian regime in other cities? Why are they only fighting the Free Syrian Army (FSA)?” Bashir asked. But Malik al-Kurdi, deputy leader of the FSA, has previously said that the fighters in Serekaniye have no ties with his group.

Political parties in Syrian Kurdistan, together with the YPG, accuse FAEL of trying to occupy the Syrian Kurdish regions with Turkey’s help. Salih Muslim, leader of the PYD, has said that, “Turkey has allocated $100,000,000 to support the victory of FAEL.” Bashir blamed the YPG for the fighting in Serekaniye, where the casualties include three Kurdish children. “We had coordination with the Kurdish National Council (KNC), we met in Serekaniye and agreed that this town should be controlled by a civil authority and that our armed groups should pull out. But, the YPG units did not allow our forces to advance forward toward the city of Hassakah,” said al-Bashir.

“I am currently in Cairo and not fully aware of the details of the conflict. But it seems that the FSA was forced to use heavy artillery because the YPG have many snipers in Serekaniye,” Bashir said. Bashir denied accusations that FAEL forces were involved in looting Kurdish homes in the region. “This is not true. The FSA is not an occupier and it respects the people wherever it goes,” said Bashir

Regarding plans for Hassakah province after the fall of the regime, Bashir said that the issue had been discussed with Arab and Kurdish tribes, which he did not name. “We will not allow the separatists to control this province because it is the richest part of Syria in terms of oil and agriculture,” he said. 

Courtesy Van Wilgenburg: