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Turkey captures top Syrian Kurdish militia figure: report

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Turkish intelligence agents have captured a senior figure from a Western-backed Syrian Kurdish militia viewed as terrorists by Ankara, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Turkey’s state media.

Turkey says the Syrian Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) are a “terrorist” offshoot of Kurdish militants waging an insurgency inside Turkey.

But Western countries worked closely with the YPG in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist group in Syria.

Ibrahim Babat, described by Turkish state news agency Anadolu as a YPG “brigade commander,” was caught during an operation inside Syria while he was driving in an unspecified location.

He was brought back to Turkey, the agency said, adding that he provided information on plans to attack Turkish military posts on the Turkey-Syria border.

Babat was born in Qamisli, northeastern Syria, Turkish media reported, but his nationality was not specified in the reports.

Ankara says the YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), blacklisted as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.

The PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

Kurdish groups gained territory during the 10-year civil war in Syria, but Turkey has launched three operations in the past five years against the YPG and ISIL.

In 2016, the creation of a Kurdish “federal region” in Syria was announced containing three cantons: Afrin in Aleppo province, Jazira in Hasakeh province and Euphrates, which includes parts of the Aleppo and Raqa provinces.

But in 2018 Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies seized the northwestern region of Afrin from the Kurds.

The latest Turkish offensive against the Kurdish militia was in October 2019 in northern Syria, leading to the capture of areas between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain.

Ankara’s actions in Syria have caused tensions with some Western countries, notably the United States and France.

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