Victory Army and YPG trade accusations over Sheikh Maqsoud crossing

A tense standoff between rebels and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Aleppo city continues after the YPG opened a road into regime-controlled territory, breaking the first clause of an agreement reached with rebels Tuesday, a Victory Army leader told Syria Direct on Wednesday.

“We are giving the YPG in Sheikh Maqsoud a deadline of 9:00 am Thursday to allow a joint committee in to oversee the closing of any open crossing with the regime,” said Yasser Abdulrahim, the leader of the Aleppo Victory Army rebel coalition.

Abdulrahim outlined Tuesday the conditions of the agreement following his meeting with YPG representatives, foremost among them “not opening a crossing between them and the regime in Sheikh Maqsoud,” as well as a “guarantee there would be no firing on civilians” passing along the Castello road, the rebel lifeline into east Aleppo city.  

Aleppo Today interviewed residents Wednesday from regime controlled areas of Aleppo who said they had crossed into Sheikh Maqsoud. Aleppo Today’s coverage corroborates information Syria Direct received from local sources that the YPG has been allowing residents to cross into regime-held territory.

A resident from regime-controlled Aleppo after crossing into Sheikh Maqsoud. Photo courtesy of Halab Today TV.

YPG leadership denied opening any crossing with regime territory, at the same time accusing rebels of targeting the neighborhood with mortar-fire, blockading the neighborhood and blocking access to the Castello road. The Local Joint Council in Sheikh Maqsoud claims the neighborhood has been besieged for over a year by both regime and rebel forces

The Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood sits at the northern edge of regime-controlled west Aleppo and overlooks Castello road. Kurdish forces began firing on vehicles travelling the Castello road from positions in Sheikh Maqsoud following rebels’ withdrawal from the majority-Kurdish neighborhood on Sunday, killing several civilians and effectively cutting off the supply route.

The rebels withdrew “on an order from their leadership” to avoid the escalation of ongoing rebel-YPG confrontations in the neighborhood that broke out after reports circulated that the YPG planned to open the crossing, Abu Hamza, an Aleppo-based journalist, told Syria Direct on Sunday.

Moutasem Jamal

Moutasem Jamal studied English literature. He moved to Jordan after losing his job because of violence in his area.

James Bowker

James Bowker graduated from Tufts University in 2013 with a double major in Arabic Language & Middle Eastern Studies. He has previously worked with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) study-abroad program and as a remote translator for the Article 25 Right to Health campaign.