Northwest Syria: Battle-level bout erupts between YPG, Turkish-led forces

The last week has seen battle-level clashes between the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Turkish-led militant groups in northwest Syria.

For about eight days in the northern countryside of Syria’s Aleppo province, Turkish-led Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces backed by Turkish Army artillery units have exchanged medium and heavy weapons fire with the YPG.

YPG forces based along a defense line running north from the town of Maranaz via Menagh Airbase down south to the village of Ash-Sheykh Issa seem to be the most active units in the ongoing clashes which involve not just artillery duels, but at least in the Kurdish case, also the regular undertaking of sniper and raiding operations.

After a week of clashes casualties (dead and wounded) are running into the tens for both sides. Equipment losses are not reported, however Turkish Army artillery units are known for having good counter-battery capabilities and their involvement may have resulted in the destruction of YPG mortar assets.

In recent days, YPG-linked media released battlefield footage of clashes against Turkish-backed groups in the northern Aleppo area which showed the use of weapons with thermal sighting – this giving YPG forces a serious advantage at night.

Most of the engagements have happened during the hours of darkness, but then again, not all of them and whilst the YPG has concentrated its attacks around the FSA-held towns of Azaz and Mare, Turkish-led forces have mostly attacked Kurdish positions around Maranaz and Ash-Sheykh Issa.

So far neither side has engaged in any kind of conventional infantry push against the other amid these clashes.

In regards to this, YPG units are in no position to launch any kind of territory-snatching operation and whilst Turkish-led forces technically are, their last such undertaking a couple of months ago resulted in the death of dozens of FSA fighters after just a few short hours which resulted in the offensive being called off.

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