The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces would coordinate with Syrian authorities troops to fend off any Turkish invasion of the north, the SDF commander instructed Reuters on Sunday, saying Damascus ought to use its air protection methods in opposition to Turkish planes.
Ankara has vowed a brand new offensive on swathes of northern Syria managed by the SDF, a Kurdish-led alliance that’s spearheaded by the Kurdish Individuals’s Safety Models (YPG).
The brand new threats have highlighted the complicated net of ties in northern Syria. Whereas Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group, Syrian Kurdish forces are backed by Washington and have additionally coordinated with Syria’s authorities and its ally Russia.
SDF head Mazloum Abdi mentioned Sunday his forces had been “open” to working with Syrian troops to struggle off Turkey however mentioned there was no must ship further forces.
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“The important factor that the Syrian military may do to defend Syrian territory could be use air protection methods in opposition to Turkish planes,” he mentioned in an interview by phone from an undisclosed location in northern Syria.
Syria sees Turkey as an occupying pressure in its north, and the international ministry in Damascus mentioned final month it might think about any new Turkish incursions as “battle crimes and crimes in opposition to humanity”.
Turkey has backed insurgent teams in clashes in opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and the SDF. It has used warplanes and more and more drones to focus on territory held by the SDF, the place Syrian Kurdish authorities have arrange a governance system separate from Damascus.
Abdi mentioned extra army coordination with Damascus wouldn’t threaten that semi-autonomous rule.
“Our precedence is defending Syrian territory, and nobody ought to take into consideration making the most of that scenario to make features on the bottom,” he mentioned.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to seize the SDF-held cities of Tal Rifaat and Manbij in Syria’s northern Aleppo province, most of which is in any other case held by Syrian authorities troops.
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Turkish-backed incursions in earlier years have ousted the SDF from the northwestern enclave of Afrin and a collection of border cities additional east.
Abdi mentioned a brand new offensive would displace round a million individuals and result in “wider” zones of combating, however wouldn’t say whether or not the SDF would reply with assaults in Turkish territory itself.
He warned it may additionally result in a resurgence of the Islamic State, which the SDF ousted from swaths of territory in northern and jap Syria with U.S. air help.
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SDF fighters guard camps and prisons the place IS fighters and IS-affiliated households are detained and redeploying these guards to struggle Turkey may depart safety gaps.
“We can’t struggle on two fronts,” Abdi mentioned.
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He mentioned he hoped an upcoming assembly between the international ministers of Russia and Turkey may result in de-escalation however mentioned any negotiated settlement should embrace a halt to Turkish drone assaults in northern Syria.
“This is able to be one among our important calls for,” he mentioned.