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'Kurds attack Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces with Russian help'

Smoke billows following a reported airstrike by government forces in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on November 7, 2015
Karam al-Masri (AFP/File)
Forces attack only supply line for Syrian opposition in Aleppo, London-based newspaper reports

In the past few days, Kurdish forces along with forces loyal to them have attacked the only supply line for Syrian opposition forces in Aleppo, and were accompanied by a Russian aerial bombardment, al-Araby al-Jadeed reported.

The London-based newspaper reported that rebel forces, including the Nusra Front, engaged in fighting with Jaysh al-Thuwar, a faction affiliated to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), in northern Aleppo near Azaz, according to an activist in the area.

According to the report, Russian air strikes accompanied the attacks on rebel positions on the outskirts of villages close to the Syrian-Turkish border.

The Russian Air Force has increased its strikes in the past few days on the border between Turkey and Syria after a Russian plane was downed by Turkey earlier in the week. Turkish F-16 jets on Tuesday shot down a Russian warplane which Ankara said had breached its air space. Russia on Thursday vowed to carry out broad retaliatory measures against Turkey's economy.

"The attack by the YPG is a serious test of Turkey's statements regarding establishing a safe zone," activist Bahaa al-Halabi suggested in statements to al-Araby al-Jadeed.

According to the report, other activists said that the alleged Kurdish attack on Syrian rebels was an attempt by Russia to implicate Kurds in the simmering tensions with Turkey.

Russia and Turkey are on opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, with Ankara backing rebels fighting to topple Assad while Moscow is one of his last remaining allies.

Turkey "temporarily" suspended air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria after the downing of the Russian warplane , local media reported on Friday.

Turkey, a member of a US-led coalition fighting IS, has halted air raids against the group in Syria in order to avoid any further crises, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

"Both sides agreed to act cautiously until they re-establish dialogue channels to reduce tensions," the paper said, citing security sources.

Government officials contacted by AFP were not immediately available for comment.

The downing of the plane sparked a grave crisis in relations between the two countries, with Russian President Vladimir Putin calling it a "stab in the back" and demanding an apology from Turkish leadership.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has angrily rebuffed the Kremlin's demand for an apology and said Putin snubbed a phone call from him after the incident.

(With AFP)

Read More: Analysis: Russian-Turkish roulette in Syria

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