Iranian general behind pro-Assad Afrin-bound convoy

The Afrin-bound convoy comprised of Iran-backed militias fighting alongside Assad that was repelled by Turkish combat drones on Tuesday was sent by Iranian General Qassem Suleimani, according to a Syrian opposition commander.

Turkish combat drones and artillery fired warning shots at the 20-vehicle convoy, forcing it to turn back 10 kilometers away from the Afrin city center.

Commander of the Abu Amara Battalions Muhanna Jafala said that the actual goal of the Iran-backed militias is reaching the Shia-majority towns of Foua and Kfariya, both of which are under a four-year siege by the opposition, by using terrorists from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)’s Syrian offshoot, the PYD, as a shield for “Shabbiha” forces.

“The person in charge of this project is Iranian Revolutionary Guards General Qassem Suleimani,” said Jafala.

The convoy, which was sent in a bid to forestall Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters’ rapid advancement in Afrin, was comprised from pro-Assad Shia groups such as Al-Nujabaa, Liwaa al-Quds and Liwaa Mohammad Baqir, according to Jafala.

The leader of the convoy is Shabbiha militiaman Khaled Hassan Alloush, originally from Aleppo’s Sefira region.

Jafala said these groups were the same ones that provoked Turkey’s Idlib deployment late last year.

The pro-Assad group, which calls itself “Popular Units,” attempted to cross to the northern town of al-Ziyara from the village of Nubbol, and was shelled as a warning by Turkish artillery and drones 10 kilometers from the Afrin city center, forcing it to retreat back to where it came from.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin spoke over the phone on Tuesday, where the former warned of “consequences” if the Syrian regime continues on this path.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu addressed the issue by saying that “if the regime wants to enter to clear the YPG then there’s no problem, but if it was interfering to protect it, then no one can stop us.”

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria’s territorial integrity, it said.

The military also said only terror targets were being destroyed and the “utmost care and sensitivity” were being used to not harm civilians.

Source » yenisafak

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