Militias allied to the Syrian government will enter the Afrin region within hours, state media reported on Monday, after a reported deal to help Kurdish forces repel a Turkish assault. Turkey and allied Syrian rebel groups launched an offensive in the northwestern region to drive out the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara sees as a terrorist group linked to an insurgency at home.
While President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the YPG espouse utterly different visions for Syria’s future and their forces have clashed at times, they have mostly avoided direct conflict during the war and see common cause in combating the Turkish military and allied rebel groups.
“Popular forces will arrive in Afrin in the next few hours to support the steadfastness of its people in confronting the aggression which Turkish regime forces have launched on the region,” state news agency SANA reported, citing its correspondent in Aleppo.
On Sunday, a senior Syrian Kurdish official said Kurdish forces and the Syrian government had reached a deal for the Syrian army to enter Afrin, and that it could be implemented within two days. The battlefield in northern Syria is complicated by a web of rivalries and alliances among Kurdish forces, the Syrian government, rebel factions, Turkey, the United States and Russia.