SDC’s Ilham Ahmed: Washington rejects any further Turkish operation into Syria

The United States is against any further Turkish military operation into northern Syria, said Ilham Ahmed, the co-chair of the Executive Committee of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political wing of U.S. backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“We hope that there will be more deterrent stances from Washington to the Turkish actions that endanger the security and stability of the entire region,” Ahmed said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday.

Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his country would begin a military offensive in Syria to combat members of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militant group allied with the United States and other NATO partners in the war against Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey would establish safe zones 30 kilometres (20 miles) inside Syria to combat what he said were terrorist threats.

“It is necessary for the world to realise that satisfying Turkey at the expense of the Syrian people will only have a temporary benefit for the countries concerned, and it will birth irreversible losses, damages and mistakes,” Ahmed said.

A full reprint of the article follows below:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is once again threatening to launch a new cross-border military operation in Syria against the remaining areas of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

U.S. armed forces, Russian forces and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are deployed side by side in the areas run by the SDF and YPG.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Ilham Ahmed, the executive chief of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), discussed the anticipated Turkish operation, the positions of major countries and the Damascus government, and the Astana track meetings.

The SDC is the political wing of the SDF, which is backed by a U.S.-led international coalition.

When asked about a potential Turkish military operation at a time the Syria talks, sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, are taking place in the Kazakh capital, Ahmed ruled out Ankara getting the green light to attack SDF territory in Syria.

“All the meetings of the Astana process did not bring the desired results for Syrians,” said Ahmed.

“We do not hope that Turkey will be given the green light to carry out its aggressive campaign against the Syrians in the Autonomous Administration (Rojava) areas,” she added.

“Russia, more than anyone else, knows that Turkey is trying to obtain approval to carry out its operation,” explained Ahmed, adding that Moscow is well aware that areas occupied by Turkey in Syria are turning into hotbeds of terrorism that fuel the Syrian crisis and civil war.

Regarding foreign opposition to the expected Turkish military operation, Ahmed noted that U.S. diplomats had relayed Washington’s rejection of any such action.

“They told us that they are against any further military operation of Turkey inside Syrian territory,” said Ahmed.

“We hope that there will be more deterrent stances from Washington to the Turkish actions that endanger the security and stability of the entire region,” she added.

As for Russia deploying forces, Ahmed said: “So far, Russian forces have not deployed more soldiers on the ground. They have control checkpoints on the border with Turkey, and they are running ground and air patrols inside Syrian territory.”

“While we are seeking full coordination with Russian forces to repel potential Turkish attacks, Moscow is required to take additional measures to protect the borders,” affirmed Ahmed.

“Turkey announced to the world that its map includes the entire border strip with a depth of 30 km, so it does not matter if it is currently promoting the names of some areas,” said Ahmed about Erdogan’s threat against Tal Rifaat and Manbij in the northern countryside of Aleppo governorate.

Ahmed moved on to explain that Turkey is adopting a nibble-by-piece policy, but the largest Syrian cities are included in its military map under the pretext of combating terrorism and preserving the territorial integrity of Syria.

“It is necessary for the world to realise that satisfying Turkey at the expense of the Syrian people will only have a temporary benefit for the countries concerned, and it will birth irreversible losses, damages and mistakes,” she added.

Ahmed also spoke about resentment among Syrians displaced by Turkey from their homes in Daraa, Ghouta, Damascus, Hama, Homs and Idlib and resettled them in Afrin.

“They are against Turkish policies and are now refusing to stay in homes that do not belong to them,” said Ahmed about the feelings of those uprooted by Turkey and forced to relocate to settlement projects set up by Ankara.

Speaking about several messages sent by the SDC to the Syrian regime, Ahmed said: “There is nothing new in the positions of the Damascus government.”

Ahmed pointed out that Damascus can show responsibility in deterring Turkish aggression and protecting the country’s borders.

“We hope that there will be an understanding about the border protection mechanism, especially that Russian and regime forces are present on contact points, along the borders in Kobani, Manbij, Al-Arima and Tal Rifaat in the Aleppo countryside,” added Ahmed.

“Certainly, our SDF forces have the necessary measures to confront the Turkish aggression and its occupation project, and our people are different from what they were in the past, so the battle will not go as they expect, and it will not resemble the previous battles,” warned Ahmed.

However, Ahmed noted that such a war will also cause great damage to the entire international community.

“We do not seek war; Rather, we seek to preserve the stability of our regions, which have turned into safe and secure areas for all Syrians.”

Ahmed pointed out that about 5 million Syrians live in Rojava areas.

(The original version of the article can be found here.)

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