Backed Syria Kurds Accuse Turkey of Jeopardizing ISIS Fight

Geraldine Edwards
November 2, 2018

The U.S. expressed "great concern" over Turkey's shelling of U.S. -backed Kurdish fighters in an area of northern Syria where American forces are embedded, an offensive that has added a new strain to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies' already rocky ties.

Taspinar sees Ankara with the upper hand over Washington regarding the situation in northern Syria, but overall with the release of United States pastor Andrew Brunson and open communication in the investigation of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the two countries are diplomatically improving. We will soon be rolling over the terrorist organization with effective operations. The US has been in touch with Turkey and a Kurdish-dominated Syrian militia to emphasise the need "to de-escalate the situation", he said.

Omer Taspinar is a nonresident senior fellow in the Center on 21st Century Security and Intelligence and an expert on Turkey, the European Union, Muslims in Europe, political Islam, the Middle East, and Kurdish nationalism.

"The fighting between our forces and the Turkish side has become very intense now", the SDF spokesperson told Syria Direct on Wednesday. He was speaking after a week of airstrikes in the area that have targeted the bases of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants.

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People's Protection Units (YPG) spokesman Nuri Mahmoud told The National that they are ready to intercept any attempt by Turkey to cross into the Kobani canton, east of the Euphrates River.

"Unilateral military strikes into northwest Syria by any party, particularly as American personnel may be present or in the vicinity, are of great concern to us", Deputy State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told a news conference in Washington on Wednesday.

According to Turkish state news Anadolu Agency, at least four YPG fighters were killed and another six injured during the day's clashes. The continuation of Turkish attacks, the group said, would further delay the offensive on the ISIS-held pocket of Hajin.

In early June, Ankara and Washington adopted a road map envisaging the Kurdish forces' withdrawal from Manbij and the transfer of control over the Syrian city to Turkish and USA troops.

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Turkey had threatened in June to attack the town of Manbij, which had at that time been controlled by the Kurds.

The strategic town lies west of the Euphrates and was taken by SDF forces from the Islamic State in 2016. Erdogan has dismissed the Pentagon's concern that the military drive could compromise the battle against ISIS in eastern Syria, where the Kurdish force is a key combatant.

Turkish and USA troops on Thursday began their first round of joint patrols in the northern Syrian city of Manbij, as part of a deal to rid the area of the YPG/PKK terrorist groups, Turkey's national defence minister announced.

Despite the Manbij roadmap, Erdogan and the Turkish military have repeatedly stated they plan to advance east of the Euphrates to the clear the border of "terrorists".

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"The terror organisation should know that they will be buried in the trenches when the time and place comes", Mr Akar said.

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