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Why Syria's Kurds are cooperating with Russia

While the Syrian opposition accuses the Kurds of cooperating with the regime and Russia, the Kurds say they're doing so to fight the Islamic State.
Syria Democratic Forces fighters take positions as they await U.S.-led air strikes on Manbij's mills where Islamic State militants are positioned, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Rodi Said - RTX2GMD1

GAZIANTEP, Turkey — Since the Syrian revolution began in 2011, the Kurds have not engaged in direct military confrontations with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has not shelled their areas as it has other Syrian cities, even though the Kurds have always opposed successive Syrian regimes.

Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), who are accused of embracing the ideology of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), managed to earn the international community’s trust after the 2014 battle for Kobani. This feat led to an international consensus, including the United States and NATO, to support them in the face of the Islamic State. Yet the Syrian opposition accuses the Kurds of being allies of Russia, which is shelling Syrian areas, and of cooperating with the regime through Russia. Buthaina Shaaban, political and media adviser to the Syrian regime, said in a Feb. 20 statement that the Kurds are cooperating with the regime through a Russian agreement.

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