Syria Kurds say they will train with Russian forces

"This is the first agreement of its kind, although we have had previous cooperation [with the Russians] in Aleppo city", he added.

Russian Federation has signed an agreement with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to set up a military base in northwestern Syria and train the forces in the war-ravaged country.

YPG spokesman Redur Xelil told Reuters news agency on Monday the agreement with Russia was concluded on Sunday, and Russian troops had already arrived in Jandaris, in the northwestern region of Afrin, with troop carriers and armoured vehicles.

The improvement in relations between the YPG and the Russians comes despite of the normalization of ties between Russia and Turkey in June 2016, and a visit by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Moscow in the beginning of March.

The move by Russian Federation, a longtime ally of President Bashar Assad's regime, is likely to anger Turkey, which considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to be a "terrorist" group.

"There are no plans to deploy new Russian military bases on the territory of Syria", the defence ministry statement read.

But even this is looking problematic for Turkey, as east of the Euphrates, the YPG has continued to amass gains over ISIS, and the current USA plan is to back a Kurdish invasion of the ISIS capital of Raqqa, giving them control over another large city and surrounding area in Syria's northeast.

The YPG is hoping to expand its force by two-thirds to more than 100,000 fighters and form a more traditional army, Xelil said.

Anti-ISIS forces are planning to begin an assault against Raqqa, the terrorist group's de-facto capital in Syria, with the YPG planning to fight alongside Arab forces.

Founded in October 2015, the SDF is comprised mostly of Syrian Kurds, numbering at least 25,000. Moreover, the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reached a deal with Russian Federation to hand over a limited number of villages to the Syrian government in the West of Manbij to deter Turkish aggression and plans to attack Manbij.

Among the buildings damaged in Monday's assault was one belonging to the Russian Embassy, Syrian state television reported.

  • Leroy Wright