3 min read  | Aleppo, Interviews, Politics, Raqqa

Amidst rising tensions with the YPG, Tel Abyad rebels keep focus on battle against IS


September 29, 2015

Harsh criticism from Sunni Syrian regime opponents met the news that Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) allegedly cut off a main rebel supply line into Aleppo city on Sunday alongside the death of a prominent Tel Abyad opposition member in YPG prisons on the same day.

The Euphrates Volcano joint operations room, the most significant fighting force against IS in a-Raqqa province which retook the border city of Tal Abyad this past June, primarily consists of Sunni rebel Liwa Thuwar a-Raqqa group and the YPG.

“We do disagree with the YPG on some matters, but we are currently moving past these differences” for the sake of the larger battle against the Islamic State, Liwa Thuwar a-Raqqa spokesman Abu Muath tells Ammar Hamou.

Q: Recently there have been disputes and discontent between rebels and the YPG in Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood and Tal Abyad. Where does Liwa Thuwar a-Raqqa stand on these disputes, and do you have a role in resolving them?

The common factor between the YPG and us is the fight against IS to liberate all the territories it occupies. This is the most important stipulation of the Euphrates Volcano operations room agreement, and we are making progress.

We do disagree with the YPG on some matters, but we are currently moving past these differences and mistakes so as not to impede the battles for the liberation of A-Raqqa.

Liwa Thuwar a-Raqqa is a military force whose goal is to get rid of IS and liberate A-Raqqa city, and then Deir e-Zor.

Those who accuse us of standing alongside the YPG, yes we are with them in the war against IS but we do not agree with policies of expulsion or arrest, and are against abuses and division.

[Editor’s note: Abu Muath is referring to a proposal by Kurdish authorities earlier this year to join Tal Abyad administratively with YPG-held Kobani just north on the Turkish border, dividing it from the rest of A-Raqqa province.]

We published a declaration about this matter, met with the Tal Abyad council of elders, and then contacted the Kurdish military forces participating in the Euphrates Volcano operations room asking them to reverse this decision, which they did.

Q: The Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently media campaign reported the death of Ayman al-Tahri in the YPG’s prisons. What is the truth of that? Did he belong to Liwa Thuwar a-Raqqa?

Ayman al-Tahri was a prominent opposition member in Tal Abyad, and he did die in the YPG’s prisons, specifically al-Bawaba, but he did not belong to Liwa Thuwar a-Raqqa.

I do not know what caused his death, but some say he was diabetic and died because of a spike in blood sugar.

There is no truth to rumors that he had previously pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. His reputation was as a rebel, and his only concern was the fall of the Assad regime.

He also sold land he owned and gave the proceeds to the FSA just before the liberation of Tel Abyad [from IS this past June].

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