BEIRUT (Reuters) – 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 advised Reuters on Sunday, saying Damascus ought to use its air defence techniques 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 Folks’s Safety Models (YPG).
The brand new threats have highlighted the advanced net of ties in northern Syria: whereas Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organisation, Syrian Kurdish forces are backed by Washington and have additionally coordinated with Syria’s authorities and its ally Russia.
SDF head Mazloum Abdi mentioned on Sunday that his forces had been “open” to working with Syrian troops to battle off Turkey however mentioned there was no must ship further forces.
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“The important factor that the Syrian military might do to defend Syrian territory could be use air defence techniques 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 power in its north and the international ministry in Damascus mentioned final month it could contemplate any new Turkish incursions as “warfare 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 state of affairs to make beneficial properties 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.
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 folks 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 might additionally result in a resurgence of Islamic State, which the SDF ousted from swathes of territory in northern and japanese Syria with U.S. air help.
SDF fighters guard camps and prisons the place IS fighters and IS-affiliated households are detained and re-deploying these guards to battle Turkey might depart safety gaps.
“We can’t battle on two fronts,” Abdi mentioned.
He mentioned he hoped an upcoming assembly between the international ministers of Russia and Turkey might result in de-escalation however mentioned any negotiated settlement should embody a halt to Turkish drone assaults in northern Syria.
“This could be one among our important calls for,” he mentioned.
(Reporting by Maya Gebeily; Enhancing by Tom Perry, Kirsten Donovan)
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