Russia is providing air support for the PYD, the Syrian affiliate of the terrorist PKK organization, to allow the PYD to establish control over all territory lying between the northern Syrian towns of Azaz and Jarablus near the border with Turkey.
Following Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane that had violated its airspace on Nov.24, Russia stepped up its air campaign to allow the PYD to gain ground in the area between Azaz and Jarablus -- in which Turkey and the U.S. want to eventually establish a "safe zone" for Syrian refugees.
For the last five days, the PYD -- with Russian air cover -- has been targeting opposition-held parts of Azaz and clashing with Daesh militants in an effort to cross the Euphrates River from the east into Jarablus.
The PYD hopes to eventually link the two regions surrounding the towns of Afrin and Kobani, both of which are in Syria’s Aleppo province.
Northern Aleppo’s opposition-controlled districts of Deir Jamal, Maryaman, Malikia and Ziara have all recently been the target of Russian airstrikes and attacks by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an anti-Daesh umbrella group led by the YPG, the PYD’s military wing.
On Sunday, local sources said moderate opposition fighters had taken control of the villages of Kashtear and Tanab in the northern Aleppo following clashes with the PYD.
Russia woos PYD
In June, the PYD succeeded in expanding the territories under its control after capturing Tel Abyad -- a region mainly inhabited by Arabs and Turkmen -- from Daesh.
In order to merge Kobani with the Afrin region, however, the PYD must first establish control over the Daesh-held Jarablus and opposition-held Azaz regions.
With this in mind, the PYD has reportedly begun seeking rapprochement with Russia, which began its air campaign in Syria on Sept. 30.
Two days before the air campaign began, Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted that only the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Kurds were truly fighting Daesh.
Eleven days after Russia first launched its air campaign, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with PYD Co-Chairperson Salih Muslim in Paris.
On Oct. 21, Bogdanov met the PYD’s other co-chairperson, Asya Abdullah, in Moscow.
The meetings were followed by the announcement that a PYD office would soon be opened in Moscow.
On Oct. 23, Putin called on the Assad regime and the PYD to join forces against their mutual enemies.