First Published: 2017-03-20

Syria Kurds to get training from Russian forces
YPG spokesman says agreement signed between Kurdish forces, Russian forces in Syria to 'train us in modern military tactics.'
Middle East Online

YPG makes up the bulk of US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters

MOSCOW - Russia's military will train Kurdish forces in Syria, a spokesman said Monday, in the first agreement of its kind with the militia that controls large parts of the country's north.

The move by Russia, a longtime ally of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, is likely to anger Turkey, which considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to be a "terrorist" group.

"An agreement was signed between our units and Russian forces operating in Syria that will train us in modern military tactics," YPG spokesman Redur Xelil said.

"This is the first agreement of its kind, although we have had previous cooperation (with the Russians) in Aleppo city," he said.

Russian forces were already present at the training camp in the Afrin region, one of the three "autonomous" cantons that Kurdish authorities manage in northern Syria, Xelil told AFP.

The deal, which Xelil said was part "of the framework of the fight against terrorism," was signed on Sunday and came into force on Monday.

The YPG makes up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters that has seized swathes of territory from the Islamic State group in northern Syria.

The SDF receives equipment, weapons and air support from the US-led coalition, and is backed by several hundred Western special operations forces in an advisory role.

Russia, meanwhile, is a long-term backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but had recently worked closely with rebel supporter Turkey to try to end the six-year war in Syria.

 

World leaders condemn Britain terror attack

UN-backed Syria talks restart in Geneva

10 Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai roadside bombings

Erdogan warns Europeans risk being ‘unsafe’ on world’s streets

Saudi film festival launch postponed after sandstorm

Britain arrests eight as IS claims Westminster attack

Man attempts to drive into crowd of shoppers in Belgium’s Antwerp

Palestinian FA chief says ball in Israel's court

Israel arrests Jewish teen over anti-Semitic terror threats

An Egypt court is to reopen a corruption probe into Mubarak

Bahrain frees award-winning AFP photographer

Erdogan slams 'pressure' on Turks in Bulgaria ahead of vote

Israel policeman suspended after caught on video beating Palestinian

Turkey summons Russia envoy over soldier death in Syria

Bahrain sentences three to death for police bombings

EU summons Turkey envoy over 'safety' remarks

400,000 'trapped' in west Mosul's Old City

Qaeda, IS developing harder-to-detect bombs say experts

Terrorist attack at London’s Houses of Parliament

2016 saw sharp rise in illegal Israeli settlement projects

US-led coalition vows lasting victory against IS

Bahrain arrests photographer on unspecified charges

Humanitarian groups demand access to Yemen civilians suffering 'open-air massacre'

33 killed in US-led air strike on north Syria

Rights group says Libyan military committed war crimes

Israel seals East Jerusalem home of Palestinian attacker's family

Migrants in Europe at risk of drug-resistant tuberculosis

Iraqis urged to avoid hurried mass grave exhumations

Turkey steps up objection to US flight laptop ban

Britain joins US in banning laptops on flights from Turkey, Arab world

Anti-IS coalition gathers in Washington to hear Trump plan

Turkey links Gulen to murder of Armenian journalist

Kuwait bans hit movie ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Five dead in Mogadishu bombing

Khamenei fleshes out 'Made in Iran' vision

Turkey to ask US to reverse flight laptop ban

Israeli army says Hezbollah commander killed by own men

Kurds celebrate Newroz in Turkey's southeast despite shooting

Turkey’s AKP says no more campaign rallies in Germany

Chinese president calls for peace in meeting with Netanyahu

Iraq forces gain ground in Mosul

US bans electronic devices from cabins on Middle East flights

Erdogan says yes vote best response to 'fascist Europe'

Arab Israeli woman gets 50 months prison for joining IS

All Syria sides confirm attendance at Geneva talks