US-backed force in Syria warns of Turkish plans for new attack

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US-backed side in Syria’s war, said Thursday that Turkey’s plans for a new offensive in Syria could create a humanitarian crisis.

SDF commander Mazloum Abdi said all parties involved in the conflict should “prevent any further tragedy and support de-escalation”. He warned that a new attack would cause more displacement in the 11-year-old conflict.

Turkey, which has mounted four operations in northern Syria since 2016, has promised a new offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia, spearhead of the SDF, which controls swaths of territory on the Turkish border.

Turkey views Kurdish forces in Syria as terrorists and a threat to national security. On the other hand, the US sees the SDF as an ally that has helped drive the Islamic State out of large areas of Syria.

Turkey is one of many powers embroiled in the war in Syria, where Russia backs the government.

Alarmed Russia said it hoped Turkey would “refrain from actions that could lead to a dangerous deterioration of the already difficult situation in Syria”.

A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told the Interfax news agency that if Ankara launched an attack, it would represent a direct violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and cause a further escalation of tensions.

Washington, whose support for the SDF has long been a sticking point in relations with its NATO ally Turkey, has expressed concern, saying any new offensive would endanger US troops – who have a presence in Syria. – and would undermine regional stability.

Visiting the Turkish city of Hatay, near the Syrian border, the American ambassador to the United Nations reiterated American opposition to any military action.

“We believe that nothing should be done to break the ceasefire lines that have already been established,” said Linda Thomas Greenfield.

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 10:32pm on Sunday June 12th, 2022