The commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said, on Wednesday, that the United States has a “moral duty” to dissuade Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from ordering a ground attack on northeastern Syria.
General Mazloum Kobani added, in an interview with Axios, that he had received intelligence information “about Turkey’s request to its local agents to prepare for a ground attack,” but still, “the administration of US President Joe Biden can persuade his counterpart Erdogan to back down.”
On Sunday, as part of what it calls Operation “Claw Sword”, Turkey launched a series of air strikes and continuous artillery bombardment against the PKK and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions in northern Iraq and Syria, according to an AFP report.
Ankara accuses the PKK of being behind the Istanbul bombing, which killed six people and wounded 81 others.
Mazloum stressed that Turkey’s strategy is based on “announcing the military operation” and preparing for it, in order to know the reactions of the United States and Russia, noting that if Turkey does not see “strong opposition from the main players, they will move forward.”
“The reactions are not yet sufficient to prevent the Turks from launching this operation,” he added.
In the latest episode in the series of Turkish attacks, Turkish air strikes targeted, on Wednesday, positions of the Kurdish security forces responsible for protecting Al-Hol camp, where thousands of displaced people and members of ISIS families are staying in northeastern Syria, according to a spokesman and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
On Wednesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that “471 targets were bombed and 254 terrorists were neutralized” in “punitive” strikes by the Turkish air force and artillery.
He stressed that “the Turkish armed forces only target terrorist organizations and their affiliated sites.”
Mazloum stressed in his interview with the site that the Syrian Democratic Forces are committed to de-escalation, but if fighting occurs, “our forces will defend themselves and their people until the last person in us,” warning that the Turkish operation “will not be limited and there will be chaos along the borders with Turkey.”
“Turkey has the means to pursue and punish the terrorists involved in the attacks against it inside and outside its borders,” Erdogan said Wednesday during a meeting of the parliamentary bloc of his Justice and Development Party in the capital, Ankara.
“We will continue our air operations without stopping, and we will enter terrorist territory when we see fit,” he added.
Erdogan specified his main goals, speaking of the areas of “Tal Rifaat, Manbij and Ain al-Arab”, with the aim of securing Turkey’s southern borders by establishing a safe area 30 km deep.
Mazloum believes that “President Biden will fulfill his promises and protect the Kurds from ethnic cleansing by Turkey, as he promised during his presidential campaign.”
The Turkish and American chiefs of staff discussed “current developments,” according to the Turkish army, which did not add any details, according to France Press.
The Pentagon said on Wednesday that recent Turkish air strikes in northern Syria threatened the safety of US military personnel, and that the escalating situation endangered years of progress against ISIS fighters.
“The recent airstrikes in Syria directly threaten the safety of American personnel working in Syria with local partners to defeat ISIS and maintain the detention of more than 10,000 ISIS detainees,” Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in a statement.
On Tuesday, a Turkish march targeted a joint base of the international coalition led by Washington and the Syrian Democratic Forces, two of whose members were killed, according to a spokesman for those forces and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while the US forces announced that they were “out of danger.”
The international coalition is the main supporter of the Syrian Democratic Forces, and its backbone is the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which Ankara classifies as a “terrorist” organization and considers it an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against it for decades.