IS militants hit US-backed Kurdish fighters in north Syria

Andrew Cummings
October 9, 2019

The US move will leave its Kurdish-led partner forces in Syria vulnerable to an incursion by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

Their victory against IS in the battle of Kobane stopped the group's terrifying advance across Syria.

Turkish forces, together with the rebel Free Syrian Army, will cross the Syrian border "shortly", President Tayyip Erdogan's communications director said early on Wednesday, as a surprise withdrawal of USA troops made way for the Turkish incursion.

In an op-ed Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal, Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, and Mike Reynolds, an academician at Princeton University, said labeling Turkey's objections to arming the YPG terror organization "anti-Kurdish" is ignorant. The bulk of the units in the Syrian Democratic Forces came from the Kurdish "People's Protection Units", or YPG.

"The same man who is a terrorist if he's in Turkey, he's a member of the PKK".

Turkey has been fighting a Kurdish insurgency led by the PKK, in which an estimated 40,000 people have died, since 1984.

America maintains some 1,000 troops in Syria who work alongside the Kurdish fighters.

Trump made an abrupt decision to withdraw USA troops from the border between Turkey and Syria, a move that clears the way for Turkey to launch a long-threatened assault on Kurds who it views as terrorists but whom U.S. military planners and other western nations view as partners in fighting the Islamic State.

Kurdish political groups in the region have long claimed that Kurdish ethnic identity, language and culture have been suppressed and that Kurds have been the victims of ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses.

Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria have declared a state of emergency and called for civilians volunteers to head to the front lines to defend against an imminent Turkish assault.

"The reason for (Turkey to say) that is to delegitimise these parties ... and to enter the Kurdistan region in order to target the Kurdish people's achievements", he said.

Turkey has repeatedly voiced concerns regarding the Syrian Kurdish forces on its southern border, which have de facto control over northern Syria, and has repeatedly vowed to launch incursions into northern Syria to force the Kurdish fighters out.

And while Mr. Trump may not have announced the withdrawal of the remaining USA troops from Syria at this time, his references to that objective in tweets Monday sowed confusion about whether or not he had made that decision. In the second operation past year, Turkey captured the Syrian-Kurdish controlled enclave of Afrin.

SDF officials confirmed Tuesday that despite the withdrawal of USA special forces from the along the Syrian border with Turkey, they have continued to receive US provisions for their anti-IS mission.

"We are helping the Kurds financially/weapons!", he added.

Turkey says it wants to establish a "safe zone" on the Syrian side of the border where it could send back some of the 3.6 million refugees from the eight-year civil war.

Shortly after, Turkish officials cited by Reuters said that an operation in Syria had not begun, although troops and heavy equipment had removed a block at a section of the border wall between the two countries.

"We know that in this area many weapons and many fighters from the YPG went via northern Iraq to Turkey and they have infiltrated the area and they have caused massive destruction".

The U.S. departure from northern Syria, some analysts note, could pave the way for Iranian forces to move in and complete a long-sought strategic asset - a land bridge from Iran and across friendly territory (in Iraq and Syria) to Iranian allies in Lebanon.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said his country won't "bow to threats" in an apparent response to Trump's warning.

But to Turkey those consequences are less frightening than the prospect of an enduring, internationally-accepted Kurdish state on its border, one that strengthens the prospect of a wider Kurdish homeland in the Middle East.

Other reports by iNewsToday