Syrian Kurd commander calls on U.S. to halt Turkish ethnic cleansing efforts
The commander of Kurdish-led forces in Syria called on U.S. President Donald Trump to stop Turkey's efforts to ethnically cleanse the Kurds from northeast Syria and replace them with Syrian Arab refugees, Foreign Policy reported on Monday.
Turkish forces and their Syrian Islamist proxies launched a military operation in northeast Syria on Oct. 9 to clear Kurdish-led forces from areas south of its border. Turkey took control of an area between the border towns of Ras al Ayn and Tel Abyad and aims to create what it calls a safe zone to resettle most of the more-than 3.6 million Syrian refugees it currently hosts.
“America should not allow forced changes in demography and ethnic cleansing in the 21st century,” Mazloum Kobani, the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told Foreign Policy in an interview.
Kobani said Turkey had carried out similar policies after it captured the northeast Syrian district of Afrin early last year where he said Kurds and religious minorities had been displaced and replaced with Syrian Turkmen and Arab families.
The Turkish-backed Syrian rebels spearheading the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria have been accused of war crimes, carrying out summary executions and unlawfully occupying and looting private property.
Foreign Policy said Kobani had indicated he might travel to Washington in the near future and called on Trump and the United Nations to send international observers to the 30-km-deep Turkish-controlled zone as a guarantee to the displaced Kurdish population.
Russia and the United States brokered two separate deals with Turkey to halt its offensive and facilitate the withdrawal of Kurdish forces to 30 km south of the Turkish border.
"They should claim their role in stopping those actions and make the Turks abide by the agreement ... their efforts are not sufficient," Kobani said.
Trump withdrew most U.S. forces from the border area in October, allowing Turkey to launch its offensive against the SDF, which led the ground war against Islamic State.