Jaysh al-Thuwar commander Ebu Heci stated that with its attacks on Tishrin and the Euphrates, ISIS was aiming to prevent a possible SDF operation in the region.
Jaysh al-Thuwar commander Ebu Heci stated that with its attacks on Tishrin and the Euphrates, ISIS was aiming to prevent a possible SDF operation in the region. Heci stated that with its activity near and attacks on Tishrin and the Euphrates, ISIS was aiming to prevent a possible SDF operation in the region. Heci said that the recent attack on Girê Spî was a similar attack organized by ISIS and the Turkish state.
ANF spoke to Jaysh al-Thuwar commander Ebu Heci on the activities of gangs from the National Syrian Coalition (SUK) and ENKS around Aleppo, Şêx Meqsûd and Efrîn.
ISIS gangs have recently increased their attacks on Tishrin dam, what are the latest updates from the region?
As you know, the SDF forces had launched an operation in and around Tishrin dam on December 23, 2015. After being under ISIS occupation for a long period of time, Tishrin dam and the villages to the south of Kobanê were freed by SDF forces on December 26, 2015.
ISIS gangs have increasingly attacked Tishrin dam since then because we inflicted a heavy blow on them by cutting their connections among Raqqa-Minbic-Jarablus.
In recent weeks, the SDF forces launched an operation to free the strategically important town of Shaddadi. The town and many villages around it were freed as part of this operation.
Shaddadi is located on the border between Iraq and Syria, and has strategic importance for ISIS as it connects Raqqa and Mosul. After Shaddadi’s liberation, ISIS gangs increased their attacks on Tishrin and Shaddadi in order to prevent a possible SDF operation in the region.
ISIS gangs’ attack on Girê Spî aims to prevent possible SDF operations? Did the operation on Shaddadi play any role in the attacks on Girê Spî?
Yes, it did play such a role. The attack on Girê Spî is very similar to the attack on Mürşitpınar border gate during the ISIS’ siege on Kobanê. ISIS gangs entered Rojava from Turkey and carried out the attack on Girê Spî and Siluk.
The SDF effectively responded to the attack on Girê Spî and killed almost all of the ISIS gangs that had carried out the attack. Things have normalized in the town since then. I can say that ISIS and the Turkish state organized the attack on Girê Spî, the confessions of captured gangs confirm this. Russia confirmed this connection as well, and many documents on the cooperation between ISIS and the Turkish state emerged since then.
ISIS GANGS RECEIVED A STRATEGIC BLOW IN SHADDADI
Of course the liberation of Shaddadi played a role in the ISIS attack on Girê Spî, ISIS gangs had carried out a similar attack during the liberation of Tishrin in order to take revenge. If you remember, they had attacked the SDF forces in Ayn İsa right after the liberation of Tishrin.
This is because areas like Tishrin, Shaddadi and Hesekê were strategically and economically important locations used in ISIS’ gas and petroleum trade. This region was also important for countries such as Iraq, Turkey and Jordan because they received petroleum and similar products through this route.
However, SDF forces liberated this area connecting ISIS gangs in Iraq and Syria, and inflicted a strategic blow to ISIS in Shaddadi. Countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel that work with ISIS also received a heavy blow after the town’s liberation, and one would have to evaluate the attack on Girê Spî within this context.
What are the latest updates from the Aleppo front, could you summarize it for us?
Our position in the Aleppo front has been defending the people since the beginning of the war. However, the gangs from groups such as ISIS, Al-Nusra, Ahrar Al-Sham, and Sultan Murat Brigade have been targeting us and the Turkish state has been trying to break our resistance here through its military and logistic support to the aforementioned groups. These groups have intensified their attacks on SDF forces after receiving Turkish support.
There are intense attacks on Jaysh al-Thuwar and YPG/YPJ forces that have control of Şêx Meqsûd and Eshrefiye neighborhoods. Hundreds of civilians died or got injured during these attacks, but the SDF continues to respond these attacks effectively.
Aleppo is understood as an important hub for both regime and gang forces. But why is Aleppo important? Could you summarize the latest updates from Aleppo?
Aleppo and its surrounding areas have strategic importance for both regime forces and the gangs supported by Turkey and other international actors. It is one of the towns where the revolution in Syria emerged, and the regime has been trying hard not to lose the city.
If the regime were to lose Aleppo, it would also lose the war. Also, many civilians in Aleppo support the revolution, so the town constitutes a breaking point for the regime.
Similarly, the city is important for the gangs because they provide military and logistic support to other jihadists across the country. They believe that their dreams of an Islamic state will end if they lose the areas they occupy in Aleppo. If they lose Aleppo, the Turkish state would not be able to send much military and logistic support, which would make it more difficult for the gangs to hold İdlib and other areas.
Aleppo is of critical importance to Syria, it is the historical center of industry and trade. The whole Arab geography is aware of Aleppo’s importance, which is why both regime forces and the foreign-backed gangs do everything they can to control Aleppo.
If the regime controls Aleppo, it will declare itself as the victor of the civil war. If the gangs control Aleppo, they will declare it as the capital of the Islamic state. We as Jaysh al-Thuwar forces view both options as undesirable, and fight both regime and gang forces. We are in an active war against the gangs.
The Turkish state and the gangs it supports recently united in order to conquer the areas we control in Aleppo. As Jaysh al-Thuwar forces, we responded to these attacks and in a spirit of self-sacrifice, our fighters repelled the gangs. We took full control of Eshrefiye, from where we had partially withdrawn.
The gangs increased their attacks on Şêx Meqsûd and Eshrefiye neighborhoods, but we have promised our people that as SDF forces, we would eventually clear Aleppo of the gangs at all costs.
What are the latest updates from the Shehba region? What significance do the Turkish state attacks on Azaz and Afrîn have?
As you know, there is a heavy concentration of gangs in the Shehba region, particularly among the Azaz- Afrîn route. Gangs launched an intense attack on our forces in this region 2 months ago, and our forces responded with an effective resistance.
Our forces upset the gangs’ plans of conquering this region and even liberated Der Jamal, Meryemin, Keştear, Minigh airbase and Til Rifat from the gangs. Upon civilians’ requests, we got rid of the gangs here and the Turkish state was upset by this development. This is because Turkey is trying to revive its failed Syrian policy through its support to Ahrar Al-Sham and the groups such as Sultan Murat and Fatih Sultan Mehmet brigades that the Turkish intelligence had established.
Most importantly, the Turkish state interferes in Aleppo through the Shehba region because of Erdoğan’s pro-Ottoman dreams. Turkey does not want its connection to the gangs to be cut because of its economic interests. Much of Syria’s and Rojava’s history and resources were stolen through this region.
In order to not lose the Shehba-Aleppo route, the Turkish state intensified its support to the gangs. In addition to military and logistic support, they have started shelling the Ceyş El Suwar positions in Rojava.
The gangs aim to stop our advances in Shehba and even conquer this region. However, as the SDF, we will continue to struggle for a Democratic Syria and Free Rojava, and clear our lands from gangs such as ISIS, Sultan Murat, Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra.