Syrian military ought to use air defenses towards Turkish invasion, US-backed SDF says

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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 instructed Reuters on Sunday, saying Damascus ought to use its air protection methods towards 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 Individuals’s Safety Items (YPG).

The brand new threats have highlighted the advanced net of ties in northern Syria. Whereas Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group, Syrian Kurdish forces are backed by Washington and have additionally coordinated with Syria’s authorities and its ally Russia.

SDF head Mazloum Abdi mentioned Sunday his forces had been “open” to working with Syrian troops to struggle off Turkey however mentioned there was no have to ship further forces.

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Members of the Syrian army gesture while they are deployed in Deraa al Balaad, Syria, in this handout released by SANA Sept. 8, 2021. 

Members of the Syrian military gesture whereas they’re deployed in Deraa al Balaad, Syria, on this handout launched by SANA Sept. 8, 2021. 
(SANA/Handout through REUTERS)

“The essential thing that the Syrian army could do to defend Syrian territory would be use air defense systems against Turkish planes,” he mentioned in an interview by phone from an undisclosed location in northern Syria.

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Syria sees Turkey as an occupying power in its north, and the international ministry in Damascus mentioned final month it could think about any new Turkish incursions as “war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

Turkey has backed insurgent teams in clashes towards 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.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference, in Ankara, Turkey. 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks throughout a information convention, in Ankara, Turkey. 
(AP Picture/Burhan Ozbilici)

“Our priority is defending Syrian territory, and no one should think about taking advantage of that situation to make gains on the ground,” 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.

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Turkish-backed incursions in earlier years have ousted the SDF from the northwestern enclave of Afrin and a sequence of border cities additional east.

Abdi mentioned a brand new offensive would displace round a million individuals and result in “wider” zones of combating, however wouldn’t say whether or not the SDF would reply with assaults in Turkish territory itself.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks with villagers in front of a wildfire-destroyed house in Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, July 31, 2021.  

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks with villagers in entrance of a wildfire-destroyed home in Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, July 31, 2021.  
(Turkish Presidency through AP, Pool)

He warned it might additionally result in a resurgence of the Islamic State, which the SDF ousted from swaths of territory in northern and jap Syria with U.S. air help.

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SDF fighters guard camps and prisons the place IS fighters and IS-affiliated households are detained and redeploying these guards to struggle Turkey might depart safety gaps.

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“We cannot fight 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 embrace a halt to Turkish drone assaults in northern Syria.

“This would be one of our essential demands,” he mentioned.

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