U.S.-backed Syrian force warns against new Turkish attack

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama (not pictured) attend a news conference, in Tirana, Albania January 17, 2022 REUTERS/Florion Goga/File Photo/File Photo

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  • SDF warns new assault will undermine Islamic State’s campaign
  • During his visit to Turkey, the American envoy reiterates his opposition to any attack
  • One fighter killed in Manbij, bombardment kills four in Tel Abyad

HATAY, Turkey, June 2 (Reuters) – The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Thursday that a renewed offensive threatened by Turkey in northern Syria would create a humanitarian crisis and undermine its campaign against the Islamic State group.

SDF commander Mazloum Abdi called on all parties to “prevent any further tragedy and support de-escalation”, warning that a fresh assault would fuel further displacement in Syria’s 11-year-long 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.

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While Turkey views Kurdish-led forces in Syria as terrorists and a national security threat, the United States views the SDF as an ally that has helped drive Islamic State out of large areas of Syria.

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 town of Hatay near the Syrian border on Thursday, the US ambassador to the United Nations reiterated US opposition to any military action.

“We have engaged with the Turkish government. We have indicated our opposition to any decision to take military action on the Syrian side of the border. We believe that nothing should be done to break the ceasefire lines that have already been established,” Linda Thomas told Greenfield.

She added that any such action would not only increase the suffering, but also the number of displaced people, including some who may attempt to cross the border into Turkey.

DEADLY VIOLENCE

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey would rid Syria’s northern regions of Tal Rifaat and Manbij of terrorists, confirming for the first time the targets of the new incursion and saying it would continue in other areas . Read more

There has been an upsurge in violence near the border in recent days, but sources on both sides say they have not seen any major military movements.

The SDF-aligned Manbij Military Council said one of its fighters was killed on Thursday as it repelled an infiltration attempt by Turkish-backed fighters.

Two of the attackers were killed, Sharfan Darwish, his spokesman, told Reuters in a voice recording.

There was no immediate comment from Turkish-backed groups in the region. Reuters could not independently confirm the incident.

A Turkish-backed Syrian rebel force, the National Army, said the SDF had stepped up shelling of its areas.

“We are responding from our positions and Turkish bases in the area are bombarding YPG positions,” Major Youssef Hammoud, his spokesman, told Reuters.

On Wednesday, three civilians and a fighter were killed in a rocket attack on Tel Abyad, a border town seized by Turkish forces and their Syrian allies during a 2019 incursion, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. man, a UK-based group that reports on the war.

The rebel national army said the SDF was responsible for the bombardment of Tel Abyad.

The Observatory said the rockets were fired from areas where both the SDF and Syrian government forces operate. A spokesman for the SDF could not immediately be reached for comment.

Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency since 1984 in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.

Western governments, including the United States and the European Union, designate the PKK as a terrorist organization.

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Additional reporting by Alaa Swilam in Cairo, Tom Perry in Beirut and Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman; written by Maher Chmaytelli and Tom Perry; edited by John Stonestreet and Christina Fincher

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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