About the Turkish army’s aggression on the canton of Afrin (Rojava)

About the Turkish army’s aggression on the canton of Afrin (Rojava)

Tristan Leoni’s comments (who is the author of the series of texts “Caliphate and Barbarity”) published in French on https://ddt21.noblogs.org/?page_id=1906#comment-4276

Since January20th, Turkey has launched the Operation “Olive Branch” against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin with the support of several Syrian Islamist militias (some of them with the FSA label). The Turkish offensive is no surprise: clashes between YPG and pro-Turks had been commonplace for months, and for several weeks the Turkish army had been deploying troops and equipment around the enclave. For their part, the YPG prepared for this while building fortifications and tunnels on their borders.
48 hours before launching their operation, the Turkish generals went to Moscow; it was at least to obtain Russia’s non-intervention, which controlled Syrian airspace and had troops in Afrin to prevent (by their presence) a Turkish attack. 24 hours before the attack the Russian soldiers left Afrin.

The PYD sought to forge contradictory alliances with various actors in the Syrian conflict (Washington, Moscow and Damascus), which could not last.The YPGs have come much too close to the Americans who are pushing them towards a quasi-secession of territory (which is not initially the PYD project) with various projects: training an army of border guards of 30,000 fighters in the Rojava, financial aid for reconstruction and the “nation building”. A matter to make Damascus and Moscow angrier.

For them, the Turkish attack is an opportunity to remind the Kurds of the real balance of power in the region. The arrival of YPG reinforcements (from eastern Syria) was only possible thanks to the support of Damascus, which allowed them to transit through the Loyalist zones.
From the very first days of Operation “Olive Branch”there was increasing speculation about discussions between the Assad’s regime, Russia and the YPG for an intervention of the Syrian army in Afrin to stop the Turkish offensive. It wouldn’t be surreal. Already in March 2016, during the Operation “Euphrates Shield”, the YPG had given several areas to the west of Manbij up to Assad’s troops in order to stop the Turkish offensive (at the same time as the American troops were deploying to the north of Manbij).

The Turkish offensive is more likely to create a security buffer along the border than to conquer the entire Afrin enclave; but since the beginning, the FSA and Turkish armed forces (TAF) are marking time. The YPG had plenty of time to fortify their borders with networks of tunnels and bunkers, and they also use the anti-tank missiles offered by the Western armies. Nevertheless, Afrin is not Kobane: if in 2014 the YPG had succeeded in repelling the troops of the Islamic state, it was mainly thanks to the support of the American air force and special forces (if not the city would have fallen). The same is not true of Afrin, where the YPG are the ones that are being bombed by the air. Despite fierce resistance, YPG troops are condemned to gradually retreat from the Turkish army and its back-up troops, and civilians are condemned to flee to the areas held by Damascus. Hence the search for a political solution or an external support that becomes urgent. This time the American cavalry won’t come to the rescue. The arrival of the Syrian Loyalist army is therefore a possibility; but it will not be “gratuitous” and, if so, the YPG will have to renounce their authority over the enclave of Afrin in exchange.

T.L. February 19th, 2018


Feb 22 2018 18:03

Kobane was Stalingrad, make Afrin Vietnam

Here as follows is a quotation of a "letter from an Irish volunteer in the YPG facing invasion from Turkey", which appears as one of the most caricatural but nevertheless very instructive statement I ever read since now about the level of political lobotomy of all these "internationalist" fighters, "communists" and "anarchists" as well, in regard of the so-called "Rojava Revolution".

This "Irish volunteer" present himself as "a communist" but what kind of "communist" can he be with his friends of "Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Lenninist (TKPML) and the Liberation Army of the Workers and Peasants of Turkey (TIKKO)"!??? Just f... Stalinists and Maoists amalgamated with some weird self-proclamed "anarchists" who have never drawn any programmatical lessons from the collaboration of the "comrades-ministers" with bourgeois parties and Popular Front like in Spain in 1936-37.

Whereas the Assad regime forces are again and again heavily bombing the region of al-Gutta east to Damascus (death toll higher than 300 deads and 1,500 wounded since last Sunday), this same regime sends some paramilitary troops (Shia militias close to Iran) in order to defend Afrin canton, at the request of PKK/PYD, YPG/SDF milicias, with a concrete politico-military deal between both sides ("Rojava Revolution" and Baath regime).

And in the ranks of the Rojavists there isn't absolutely any problem with this, I mean it's completely quite normal that these butchers are coming to help saving "democratic confederalism" from the Turkish agression. BTW Rojava administration is also calling Damascus forces for protecting national borders and integrity of Syria. What the hell does it mean to pretend refusing the concept of nation-state (according to the "new paradygm" of PKK) when in the same time (maybe for "tactical and temporary" reasons) they make alliances with the Syrian nation-state, they call for the defense of the latter, "a sovereign state" as the "Irish volunteer" stated about Syria...

The relationship with the Syrian government is complicated but I wouldn’t describe it as hostile today. Rojava is not a separatist project, its ambition is autonomy within what the Russians propose, a new Syrian Republic.

The YPG and Syrian forces have worked together in the past in the liberation of Aleppo. Many of the city neighbourhoods of Qamishli in Rojava are under government control. But even as a foreigner you can walk or drive through the checkpoints with no problems.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has not been obstructing us in our defence of Afrin, which it could easily do.

Russia has given a decent amount of military assistance to the YPG in the past, though less than the US. It proposes replacing the current Syrian Arab Republic with a new Syrian Republic, with Kurdish autonomy, and state recognition of all minority languages.

Russia has tried to get the Syrian Kurds a place at the table for the peace negotiations, and for the first time secured one for the planned Sochi talks.

Ad nauseam.

Feb 26 2018 15:52

As Afrin burns, where is the left?

Critics argue that the democratic rhetoric is just a front for Kurdish separatism. Underneath the egalitarian veneer, they say, lurks a regressive ethno-nationalist programme. Perhaps.

Ascertaining what is happening on the ground is never easy in a time of war and no organisation is perfect. But even if the critics are right, the available evidence suggests the PYD remains more progressive than the Islamic State (IS) jihadists they have fought off, the butcher of Damascus and his theocratic backers in Tehran, or the increasingly authoritarian Erdoğan. Knowing who to make common cause with should not be hard.

INDEED, completely agree with the fact that in the current and actual circumstances (Turkish aggression on Afrin) "Knowing who to make common cause with should not be hard"... And this result in "Rojava Revolution" institutions (PYD/YPG/SDF...) making common "tactical and provisional" (obviously) cause with "the butcher of Damascus and his theocratic backers in Tehran". C'mon folks, this "should not be hard" to accept and understand!??? BTW at the risk to repeat myself, it's not the first time that these "antination", "anticapitalist" and "antistate" forces collaborate with nations, capitalists and states (USA, Russia, Syrian government, Iran...). Ad nauseam...

Unlike all this above bullshit I wanna express my complete solidarity with the proletarian population in Afrin under bombs of Turkish murderers; local population as well as refugees who fled en masse the region of Idlib bombed by the same Russian and Syrian and Iranian militaries who now help to repel Turkish aggressors threatening the "Syrian national territory"; refugees who also for months and years fought back jihadist organizations and social order in the region; many of these resisting and struggling proletarians when arrested were simply beheaded by jihadists...

Also express my complete solidarity with proletarian population in Eastern Ghouta bombed and slaughtered by precisely those powers who are rescuing Afrin canton and "Rojava Revolution"...

SOLIDARITY with the proletarians NOT with bourgeois organizations that frame and contain them as cannon fodder aiming at developing their own politics and strategies and alliances!!!

Feb 27 2018 13:07

I understand how the transfer of an ATGM system from Aleppo to Afrin can stop a Leopard 2A Main Battle Tank. Cutting through the bullshit I don't understand how your 'complete solidarity with the proletarian population in Afrin' would achieve the same.

You seem to be using this "complete solidarity" to oppose the transfer of that ATGM system so again in the name of cutting through bullshit I think you owe us an explanation, or is this simply a left version of US republican 'thoughts and prayers'?

In the 1930s Spanish anarchists accepted weapons from the Soviet Union even though they were fully aware of
a) the counter revolutionary nature of that regime
b) that conditions attached to these weapons were intended to undermine the revolution
c) the quality and quantity of weapons supplied was kept low to keep them of limited effectiveness
d) that the proxy forces of that regime were involved in liquidating the revolution elsewhere in the country

But they had the same problem of how to stop tanks and aircraft with outdated rifles, it can't be done with those not to mention declarations of 'complete solidarity'

R Totale
Feb 27 2018 13:27

What's your analysis of the current relationship between the PYD/"Rojava"/whatever and the Assad regime? Not baiting you, genuinely curious to hear your thoughts. My impression - and I take no pleasure in saying this - is that the balance of forces that allowed Rojava to enjoy some relative independence from the various competing imperialist blocs has now shifted, and it's very hard to see anything like a "happy ending" from here. I would be very glad to be proved wrong, though.

Feb 27 2018 13:39

Yep I'd agree with that assessment, from the start I've argued that it was a revolution between 'A rock and a hard place' that operated in a space opened up by the civil war that would be closed as it ended. The Assad regime may still be weak and dependent on Russia and Iran for some time to come though so I think that's what they are beting on out of desperation at the moment. Turkey will crush them immediately, Assad may not be able to muster the forces to do so for some time yet and that time might open opportunities. An extreme example being the Zapatista who have managed to preserve considerable local autonomy over decades.

R Totale
Feb 27 2018 13:56

Mmm. I suppose the question remains what possibilities are closed down by the alliance with Assad - it looks like any possible cooperation with anti-Assad Syrian forces is well and truly out of the question now, although idk what possible allies still existed at this point, since it's very much not 2011 anymore. (Sorry if this is brief and garbled, got to be back from my lunch in a few minutes.)

Feb 27 2018 14:16

At the very least it appears they had to hand over some of the areas they still held in Aleppo although possibly not their stronghold (but its also interesting they were still holding these a year later). Economically Assad has to co-operate with them (but actually even ISIS did economically and with Assad ). If you've not come across it the history of the cement factory I mention in the above piece is a fascinating example of the economic realities that you might not expect https://tcf.org/content/report/factory-glimpse-syrias-war-economy/

R Totale
Feb 27 2018 14:38

Do you think there's still any potential for liberatory self-organisation anywhere in the "rebel", non-ISIS, non-Assad, non-PYD zones, or would you say that particular possibility was squashed between the rock and the hard place a while back?

Feb 27 2018 15:19

My impression (as I've spent a lot less time looking at them) is that is the case and it happened relatively quickly once the repression started because the progressive 'FSA' groups lacked any real defensive capability and so were reliant on either defecting military or 'jihadi' groups who had experienced and weaponry from Iraq, Afghanistan and further afield. I found the book Burning Country a very useful suggestion of what might have been possible if perhaps overly hostile to Rojava and overly optimistic about the continued hope for progressive sections of the FSA. Even from that account though its very clear that 'rock and a hard place' compromises had to be made very early on.

There is an interesting discussion to be had about the entire 'regime change from below' model of the Arab Spring and its now obvious short fallings that couple's in the extent to which the US precisely encouraged such a limited model. The Rojava / PYD example would seem to demonstrate the need for considerable preparation rather than it might all work out spontaneity but obviously thats a way way more complex conversation.

The thing that annoyed me about the original post was its wilful ignorance around the very hard question of how do you make a revolution in the age of helicopter gunships. Historical reenactments of the imagined barricades of 1917 contain no answers at all, and no longer did by 1936, never mind today.

Mar 6 2018 11:29
AndrewF wrote:
I understand how the transfer of an ATGM system from Aleppo to Afrin can stop a Leopard 2A Main Battle Tank. Cutting through the bullshit I don't understand how your 'complete solidarity with the proletarian population in Afrin' would achieve the same.

You seem to be using this "complete solidarity" to oppose the transfer of that ATGM system so again in the name of cutting through bullshit I think you owe us an explanation, or is this simply a left version of US republican 'thoughts and prayers'?

Don’t expect anything else than surely (not everybody but only) genuine internationalists will consider the position here above as pure intellectual breakdown and blackout (at least). Let me just tell you folks I’m absolutely not a pacifist (far from being) but wanna point out this position as completely and actually confusing a genuine proletarian, revolutionary, communist, anarchist solidarity (class solidarity!) towards other fellow proletarians on the one hand, and a militaristic involvement as a contribution to inter-bourgeois wars opposing different factions using our class as cannon fodder on the other hand.

If indeed the revolution will need weapons, guns, canons, missiles and surely much more, what social revolution needs more than anything else it’s a clear perspective about what is to be done and with whom. The same goes when workers take “their” factories in their hands and manage them, and remember Leon Blum’s cynical but nevertheless somehow acute comments about factories occupation in France in 1936: “workers occupy factories but in fact it’s factories that occupy them, give them something to do” (in others words: divert them from their tasks to destroy the capitalist social relations)… The problem is not as such to occupy factories and to take in hands the means of production, but from then on what is to be done with them, what is to be produced, and for which purposes…

The “military question”, the use of guns, is not separated from the totality of the revolutionary militant tasks to assume, to take on, it’s not a question apart. It’s not the military question that leads the social movement but the contrary. This issue is today very acute regarding what happens in Rojava: we are literally overwhelmed with such a flood of war communiqués about the military situation in Afrin (and before it was in Manbij, Raqqa, Deir-Ezzor, etc. all regions swallowed by Rojava “Self-Administration” under the yoke of the “new” ideological paradigm called “democratic confederalism”, which is nothing but just a vulgar imposture wearing somehow the clothes of “revolution”, smelling the vague taste of “revolution” but having absolutely nothing in common with a minimum of beginning of dynamics pushing towards the overthrowing of ruling capitalist social relations. There is no way out nor any explanation to be given on how a “revolutionary” struggle could so easily collaborate directly with US Air Force, US Special Forces (Green Berets), with the fact that the US Army Headquarters is located in Manbij (territory under YPG control), that there are more than 2,000 of US soldiers in Rojava (oops! in the “Democratic Federation of Northern Syria”, which sounds lesser “sexy” than Rojava), the USA have at its disposal ten (10!) military bases in Rojava (including two airbases), they have deals with Russian Air Force and Russian Army generally and Damascus government’s bloody slaughterers as well (through “operation rooms” to coordinate military activities between the three armies)… Ad nauseam!!!

Now this being said, to come back to the question of the “solidarity”, it’s true that there are folks who know better than nobody else what exactly “solidarity” means. Let’s recall what Irish WSM (Workers’ Solidarity Movement) said and wrote some years ago in the time of the war in Kosovo:

While we can offer no instant solution to this disaster there are ways in which Irish working people can show real humanitarianism and solidarity with the suffering Kosovar people…
Firstly we can oppose any and all Western intervention in Kosovo, which will only serve to further the interests of the imperial powers… In Ireland we should especially oppose any proposals to join the NATO ‘Partnership for Peace’ grouping. The Irish government wishes to enter this military alliance without even consulting the Irish people…
Secondly we can attempt to build links between workers’ organisations in Ireland and progressive groups in Serbia who oppose the war…
Finally the most important act of solidarity that we can show is to demand that the Irish government offers refuge to the terrorised, displaced people of Kosovo… We should demand that our government give serious cash to the relief organisations and offer asylum to those Kosovar refugees who want to get out of the Balkans… This is the real meaning of humanitarianism, the offering of assistance and solidarity to those unfortunate enough to be the victims of disasters. If our government was truly committed to humanitarian values the government jet would be busy ferrying refugees out of Kosovo instead of tacitly supporting the escalation of the war.


Sorry folks, but what a ridiculous, absurd, laughable, silly petty bourgeois naivety dear to so many “useful idiots” in history:
• calling for “your own” government to do something “humanitarian” for proletarians victims of capitalist wars which this same government (through several international alliances and connections) has surely a certain responsibility in;
• demanding “your own” government, politicians, state, ruling class (yuk!) to behave exactly in the opposite way they are doing and contrarily to their real own class interests;
• expecting that you could call “solidarity” the fact to beg any and all nations-states in the world and why not the “United Nations” (this International of genuine capitalist gangsters) for helping our own fellow proletarians…
This is not only dangerously grotesque but much more: this is developing a process, a dynamics disarming our class, weakening it, dispossessing it from its abilities in regard to the necessities and determinations to confront its historical class enemies.

A very last word about this: the proletariat as a revolutionary class has no interest to frontally confront the state and its central repressive apparatuses.What we have to develop on the contrary is the revolutionary defeatism, that is to push dissolving the bourgeois armies (especially while weakening its discipline and coherence) at a lower cost regarding human life, through violence of course, through direct action, sabotage, generalized and insurrectional strike… in the armies, factories, mines, offices, schools… anywhere we suffer exploitation from this world of death and misery… but also through the force and energy of the movement developing its class perspectives. Don’t forget one thing folks, it’s that where there are warplanes and warships, machineguns and missiles and poison gas to repress our class movement, behind them there are always and ever men and women who have to produce them, to transport them to their destination, to fuel them… It’s the duty of struggling proletarians to prevent the war machine to kill our fellow brothers and sisters, to stop the production system to work and function…

AndrewF wrote:
In the 1930s Spanish anarchists accepted weapons from the Soviet Union even though they were fully aware of
a) the counter revolutionary nature of that regime
b) that conditions attached to these weapons were intended to undermine the revolution
c) the quality and quantity of weapons supplied was kept low to keep them of limited effectiveness
d) that the proxy forces of that regime were involved in liquidating the revolution elsewhere in the country

But they had the same problem of how to stop tanks and aircraft with outdated rifles, it can't be done with those not to mention declarations of 'complete solidarity'

Once again you are kidding yourself.
If counterrevolutionary powers (yesterday the USSR, today the USA, Russia, EU, etc.) provide any armament, any logistical supplies, it’s of course while having their own interests, their own agenda as powers. And at the time many of our fellow comrades in Spain thought and today fighters in Rojava think that it’s not them who will be used by these capitalist, imperialist powers but they will use them in a kind of “tactical and provisional” alliances. Reality showed and still shows the evidence that it’s completely false. After having fought against fascism, for the defense of the bourgeois republic and refused to put forward the real needs of social revolution (e.g. through the so-called “dictatorship of anarchy”), the proletariat in Spain had been obliged to accept the dissolution of the workers’ militias and therefore the militarization of these latter, abandoning thus their “revolutionary spirit” on the altar of a “lesser evil” for defend, of a “revolution” to be done “after” the victory over fascism that never happened…

BTW I agree with the words of Spikymike on another thread: https://libcom.org/forums/organise/nihilist-ukrainian-anarchist-online-zine-11022018#comment-602243

Spikymike wrote:
Well I'm not arguing against people resorting to self-defence when directly attacked by state or state aligned forces but that is a long way from signing up with the same such forces on either side of state sponsored inter-imperialist/civil wars. I understand the choice you have made but minorities such as yours will be fighting alongside your enemies for reasons that may seem sound in your own mind but in practice will serve the objective interests of the relevant states.

Moreover and finally, while talking about “Rojava Revolution”, which essence would be “anticapitalist”, “antistate”, it’s “funny” because all the testimonies seem to focus on this conclusion that not only private property hasn’t been abolished in Rojava (and where should it be in this period of social peace!?) but also that there is no real dynamics and process of attacking private property at all, or let’s say maybe not anymore since PYD/YPG took the power in the Rojava cantons and strangled any class autonomy in the region…

From an interview with the Minister of Economy for the Efrîn Canton we can read:

Private capital is not forbidden but it is made to suite our ideas and system. We are developing a system around cooperatives and communes. However this does not prove that we are against private capital. They will complete each other. We believe that when the cooperative system is developed moral private capital can be added in certain parts of the economy.


And you agree of course with that!!!

You really don’t understand anything to the social matter but it’s quite normal: you confuse a social movement and process with its bourgeois leadership, a proletarian revolution with the counterrevolution, social liberation with national liberation (= “national-social liberationism”), a militant dynamics against the dictatorship of the present state of things with a series of reformist measures to consolidate this state of things, which appears obviously under a renewed disguise, with new labels and with face-lifted institutions and ideologies like “popular assemblies”, “cooperatives”, “democratic confederalism”, “social economy”, “women’s liberation”, etc. and finally makes it more acceptable with making oppressed participating to their own oppression, alienated to their own alienation, exploited to their own exploitation… That’s it!!!

Mar 8 2018 15:05

A militant fellow of mine knowing my critical positions towards the so-called “Rojava Revolution” told me very recently that he readan article in French leftist webzine “Bastamag!” and he pointed out particularly a paragraph about “fraternization” between YPG militants and/or sympathizers on one hand and pro-governmental Syrian Shia militias that entered the Afrin canton on February 20th for helping the Kurdsagainst the military Turkish aggression. Here as follows is the excerpt from the article “From Afrin to Ghouta, why Syria is still being torn apart despite the defeat of the Islamic state”:

Despite the gradually conquered territories and their claimed autonomy, the Kurdish YPG never fought intensively against the forces of Bashar al-Assad alongside opposition groups. It is rather a reciprocal non-aggression that has predominated between these two parties since the 2011 revolution. On the evening of February 20th, shortly after the failed attempt by pro-regime forces to enter Afrin, videos began nevertheless to circulate on social networks, displaying the “reunion” of regime fighters with members of the YPG, Loyalist flags mixed with Kurdish flags, chanting “united-unified, the Syrian people are united!”, that is to say one of the slogans of the revolution. As expected, Damascus wants to capitalize on Turkish intervention: it is a question for the regime to regain legitimacy by showing itself as a protector of the Kurds, and staging the reunification of a country torn apart by war.

Source in French: https://www.bastamag.net/D-Afrin-a-la-Ghouta-pourquoi-la-Syrie-est-toujours-a-feu-et-a-sang-malgre-la

Of course I know that everything is now possible in Syria and especially with the Kurdish “national-social liberationism” and its “tactical and provisional” alliances and counter-alliances with everybody and anybody. By the way when an alliance with Daesh? It would not be as surrealistic as it seems at first sight! Everything is possible in bourgeois politics and its diplomatic relations. But as this article didn’t provide any links to these “videos” I didn’t really believe to this story.

Then my friend made a research on internet and especially on Youtube and came back to me with some evidences and I was then on really gobsmacked! Here as follows are three videos expressing the joy of Kurds militants in regard to the intervention of the “butcher of Damascus” to help Afrin canton against Turkish military aggression. The two first videos are showing “fraternizations” and please observe the Syrian and YPG flags waving together when Syrian militias entered Afrin; note also the portraits of Ocalan and Bashar in the second video. In the third video, shot between Turkish aggression and Damascus intervention, there are some interviews of Kurdish militants calling for Syrian government and army intervention in the name of “the unity of the nation”…

Which kind of comments could yet be appropriate to describe these scenes of “fraternization” between the “poor Kurdish people” and Assad’s murderers!???

Syria: 'They came to protect us!' - Afrin welcomes Syrian govt. forces
Added on Feb. 22, 2018

Thousands of residents in Afrin welcomed soldiers from the Syrian government who had arrived in response to Turkish military operations in the region on Thursday.

"Kurds and Arabs are one people, we have protected the Kurdish protection units, and now the Syrian Arab Army also came to protect us, we are all one. The Syrian people are one,” said one of the locals.

“We are against [Turkish President RecepTayyip] Erdogan, and against the Ottoman Turkish aggression, we Syrian people are one people, the land is one, and we are united,” said one of the soldiers.

Syria: Pro-Syrian govt demo in Afrin's Freedom Sq after militias arrive
Added on Feb. 22, 2018

Friend or foe? Assad quietly aids Syrian Kurds against Turkey
Added on Feb. 11, 2018

Syria's U.S.-backed Kurds are getting indirect help from an unlikely source in their war against Turkey in the northwestern region of Afrin: President Bashar al-Assad.

Pro-government forces and Kurdish-led forces have fought each other elsewhere in Syria and Damascus opposes the Kurds' demands for autonomy. But in Afrin they have a common enemy and a mutual interest in blocking Turkish advances.

Turkey, which regards the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin as a threat on its southern border, launched an assault on the region last month. Seeking to shield Afrin, the Kurds asked Damascus to send forces into action to defend the border.

The government shows no sign of doing so, but it is providing indirect help by allowing Kurdish fighters, civilians and politicians to reach Afrin through territory it holds, representatives of both sides told Reuters.

Assad stands to gain while doing little.

Each side has allowed the other to maintain footholds in its territory. In Kurdish-held Qamishli, the government still controls the airport. In the Sheikh Maqsoud district of Aleppo, a government city, Kurdish security forces patrol the streets.

The arrival of reinforcements is likely to sustain Kurdish resistance, bog down the Turkish forces and prolong a conflict that is sapping the resources of military powers that rival him for control of Syrian territory.

For the United States, it is yet another complication in Syria's seven-year-old war, and a reminder of how its Syrian Kurdish ally must at times make deals with Assad even as it builds military ties with the United States.

Lacking international protection, the Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria say they have reached agreements with Damascus to allow reinforcements to be sent to Afrin from other Kurdish-dominated areas -- Kobani and the Jazeera region.

While the Kurds depend on Assad to reach Afrin, Kurdish sources say they also enjoy leverage over Damascus because it needs their cooperation to source grain and oil from areas of the northeast under Kurdish control.