Syria Kurds brace for Turkish invasion

Cheryl Sanders
October 11, 2019

For Ankara, which views Kurdish YPG fighters as terrorists due to their links to militants waging an insurgency inside Turkey, an influx of non-Kurdish Syrians would help it secure a buffer against its main security threat.

The Kurds, who have fought alongside U.S forces against ISIS, are in charge of the camps where thousands of ISIS fighters and their families are being held.

The SDF halted operations against Daesh because of the Turkish offensive, two USA officials and a Kurdish source said.

The White House said in a statement on Sunday that Turkey would now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years.

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported on Tuesday night that Turkish forces would strike Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, two of the zones included in the joint "security mechanism" that Trump made a decision to abandon on a call with Erdogan on Sunday.

Erdogan's communications director Fahrettin Altun said Turkey had no ambition in northeastern Syria except to neutralize the threat against Turkish citizens and to liberate the local people from what he called "the yoke of armed thugs".

But Kurdish officials have warned that they would have to divert their forces away from guarding IS prisoners in case of a Turkish assault.

Ankara has said it intends to secure a stretch of territory along its southern border with Syria that runs more than 480 kilometers (300 miles) long toward the Iraqi border and is 30 kilometers deep.

An aide to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the Turkish army and its Syrian rebel allies would cross the Syrian border "shortly". He has said he will convene a donors conference to help meet the cost and has called on European nations to share the burden, warning that Turkey could be forced to open the "gates" for an influx of migrants to Western nations.

There has been no public support from Turkey's Western allies for its plan to settle 2 million Syrians - more than half of the refugees it now hosts - in northeast Syria.

Trump reacted to the developments in a tweet, saying: "Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years".

The YPG denies that it is a terror organization but says it aspires to the ideals of the PKK's founding leader, Abdullah Öcalan.

The Kurdish-led civilian administration in northeastern Syria issued a "general mobilization" call along the Syrian border with Turkey on Wednesday as Ankara poised for an imminent invasion of the area in the latest major escalation in the war-ravaged country.

He said the offensive targeted Kurdish militants and the Islamic State group in northern Syria. Patrolling with Turkey and global forces to protect the Kurds and Turkey is the way to go.

The Syrian government, as well as its close allies Iran and Russian Federation, are happy about the US' decision to withdraw from the north, but have expressed concern about the violation of Syria's sovereignty by Turkey. Republican critics and others said he was sacrificing an ally, the Syrian Kurdish forces, and undermining Washington's credibility.

"They are extremely alarmed that such a lightweight treatment of this extremely delicate subject could ignite the entire region", Lavrov said.

However, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Mustefa Bali announced on Twitter, however, that "Ground attack by Turkish forces has been repelled by SDF fighters" in the Tal Abyad region.

Turkey views Kurdish YPG fighters in northeast Syria as terrorists due to their ties to militants waging an insurgency inside Turkey.

The SDF, which is holding thousands of IS fighters in several detention facilities in northeastern Syria, has warned that a Turkish incursion might lead to the resurgence of the extremists. Raqqa is being Silently Slaughtered, an activist collective that covers news in the northern city, reported an exchange of fire and a blast.

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