Turkish-backed rebel groups fight each other again in Afrin

by Wladimir van Wilgenburg    


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said on Monday that clashes broke out between rebel factions over residential houses in Afrin. The internal fights show the difficulties Turkey has in controlling the several Islamist factions it backs in northern Aleppo.

“The clashes took place near Kawa roundabout In Afrin city, between a group of al-Hamzah Division and a group of al-Mu’tasim Division, against the backdrop of a disagreement between both groups about the takeover of residential houses in the area,” the observatory said.

The Turkish army was forced to stop the dispute between the two parties.

Furthermore, there were also clashes in Afrin between the Kurdish Mashaal Temmo brigade and Jaysh al Sharqiyya last week.

“This led to exchange of fire which resulted in the fall of wounded in the ranks of the both parties, followed by intervention of the military police, which turned into a confrontation between Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah against the Turkish police, which pushed the latter to bring reinforcements to control the situation and security chaos,” the observatory said.

Also the commander of the Mashaal Tammo brigade Abu-Mariam al-Haskawi survived an assassination attempt on the road of Afrin – Sharan on 27 May. According to a Twitter account of Afrin activists, the unknown group calling itself ‘Hawks of the Land of the Olives’ claimed responsibility.

This is not the first time that there is internal fighting between Turkish backed rebel groups for spoils of war, territory and control. On 25th of March, there were clashes between al-Hamza Division and Ahrar al-Sharqiya group in Afrin in which at least six to seven fighters were killed.

According to the Observatory, most of the rebel groups backed by Turkey in Afrin were involved in looting of food, cars, and agriculture vehicles, and electronic devices, electricity generators, public and private properties in the city since the control over the city of Afrin on the 18th of March 2018 in which over 150,000 people from Afrin were displaced.

Furthermore, several civilians were kidnapped and abducted by rebel groups. In some cases, rebel groups demanded ransom money.