This guest post by @ArjDnn deals with the continuous strife between ISIS, Jabhat an-Nusra, Harakat Ahrar as-Sham and others on the one hand and Kurdish YPG and YPJ fighters on the other in northern Syria. For Kurds this territory is Rojavayê Kurdistan (Western or Syrian Kurdistan), it is considered as part of Bilad as-Sham by others. Both the text and maps included provide us with an inside view from the Kurdish point of view. A viewpoint that is easily disregarded in the Syrian Apocalypse …
Rojava – Kurdish forces expell Islamist rebels
On the 20th November Al Qaeda affiliated forces attacked Xebis village west of Til Temir and killed 8 YPG fighters, including a YPJ commander. YPG were able to respond quickly and Xebis was soon under YPG control again. The day after the attack YPG vowed to clean the area from “gangs” (referring to Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups).  Five days later, at 19:00 on the 25th of November, YPG initiated an operation named “Revolutionary operation of Revenge for the martyrs of Til Temir”.
The operation was carried out with the participation of several YPG battalions. While YPG forces from Hasakah, moved north and northwest, YPG forces from Qamişlo and Til Temir moved south and southeast.
Chronology of the operation
During the first day of the operation YPG were able to gain control of the road between Til Beder (Til Baydar) and West Dam. In the second day YPG was in control of the triangle between Til Temir, Til Bedir and the West dam.
Triangle secured by YPG during first two days of clashes
On the third day YPG forces from Hasakah who had surrounded Tiwene (Al-Tuwinah) moved in and liberated the town. Tiwene was important since the town and the Poultry farm outside Tiwene was used as a base from where Al-Qaeda and the jihadists groups coordinated and exerted power in the surrounding areas. 11 civilians, mostly truck drivers kidnapped by Al Qaeda were freed in Tiwene.
YPG forces in Tiwene village.
Civilians set free by YPG after taking control of Tiwene
On the 4th day YPG forces in Tiwene started to move northwest along the road that leads to Til Temir, whereas YPG forces from Til Temir advanced south west. YPG forces from Hasakah met resistance by Al Qaeda forces in three villages. After YPG forces from Til Temir took control of Ruguba village remaining Al Qaeda forces started to flee. A couple of hours laters YPG forces from Hasakah and Til Temir were able meet on the road between Til Temir and Hasakah.
YPG forces on the road between Hasakah and Til Temir
According to the official YPG statement 34 jihadists were killed, whereas two YPG fighters, both commanders, had been martyred in the clashes. Furthermore, 2 tons of explosives, a couple of vehicles and many weapons were seized from Al Qaeda. 29 villages and some Al Qaeda positions were now under YPG control.
Control of roads
What is been even important in this and previous YPG operations since September is the control of roads YPG have been able to gain control of. In this operation the road between Til Bender and Hasakah, and the road between Til Temir and Hasakah was secured.
Result of these gains means that YPG forces may move between all the way between Hasakah and Serekaniye, and Hasakah-Dirbêsîye, without having to take detours.
YPG fighting a constellation of different Jihadist groups
An interesting observation from the interviews with civilians freed in Tiwene is that they said they were first kidnapped by “the gangs” (which is likely referring to either Jahbat al-Nusra or ISIS), and then handed over to Ahrar al-Sham, who put them in a makeshift prison from which they were freed from when YPG arrived and liberated Tiwene. As in clashes in Til Koçer and Serekaniye it shows that jihadist forces, Al-Qaeda affiliated or not, continues to coordinate and support each other in the Kurdish dominated areas.
YPG, on their part, involved several YPG battalions; YPG special forces, YPJ special forces and YPG battalions from Qamislo, Til Temir and Hasakah. YPJ forces secured some of the villages and had an important role in the siege of Tiwene. Female YPJ forces taking part in YPG operations is not something new, but as far as I know, it is the first time YPG officially acknowledges that YPJ special forces took part in a major YPG operation. Its probably an indication that we will hear more from female YPJ special forces in future operations.
YPG will now try to hand over the political authority to local councils in the villages that have been liberated. This is usually the first step that is carried out by YPG after they take control of a village. Since many civilians flee after jihadist forces takes control in a village or town in Kurdish dominated areas its crucial for YPG to restore security . As soon as villagers start to return YPG supports establishment of local councils who will be responsible for administration, including taking over responsibility for policing local and respond to initial outside threats.
Villages liberated by YPG:
List of villages (by their Kurdish names) which were liberated by YPG;
3. Xirbet Şêr
6. Til Ruman Foqanî
7. Til Ruman Tehtanî
8. Til Sekra
9. Til Fêda
29. Til Erbûş
Furthermore, The ”Guest home of the Ministry”, and a Poultry farm used as a base by Al Qaeda were liberated by YPG forces.