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Are Turkeys threats to Western Kurdistan a headache for US

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Are Turkeys threats to Western Kurdistan a headache for US

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:35 pm

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced they have temporarily halted their offensive against ISIS in the Hajin pocket of Deir ez-Zor province after Turkey repeatedly shelled Kurdish forces in Western Kurdistan

The continued Turkish attacks “are the reason for a long term suspension of our military campaign against ISIS, which is what Turkey wants,” the SDF stated Wednesday evening.

Turkish forces fired at Kurdish positions in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River, on at least three separate occasions in the past four days. One member of self-defence forces has been killed and several injuries have been reported.

Turkey considers the Kurdish forces to be a branch of the PKK and alleged they have come under fire from northern Syria. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that preparations are complete for an offensive east of the Euphrates River.

The Kurdish YPG, under the umbrella of the SDF, is leading the war against ISIS in northern and eastern Syria in coordination with international allies of the coalition. French and American troops are on the ground in northern Syria.

The US said it was concerned about Turkey’s actions.

"Unilateral military strikes into northwest Syria by any party, particularly as American personnel may be present or in the vicinity, are of great concern to us," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.

"Coordination and consultation between the United States and Turkey on issues of security concern is a better approach," he added.

The US and Turkey are coordinating in the Manbij area.

France on Tuesday expressed concern about Turkey’s attacks, calling for parties to pursue a political solution rather than the military option.

The SDF, YPG, and allied local political councils and parties control more than a quarter of Syria. They defeated ISIS in Kobane, Tabqa, Raqqa, and are now battling the group in its last stronghold in the Hajin area.

Kurds accuse Turkey of silently backing ISIS and attacking Kurdish forces in order to distract from the war against the militant group.

“This direct coordination between the Turkish Army attacks in the north and the attacks of ISIS in the south against our forces led to the temporary stopping of the fight to defeat terror,” the SDF stated on Wednesday.

The force said it considered Turkey’s attacks east of the Euphrates “direct support” from the Turkish state to ISIS.

The SDF called on the international community to condemn Turkey and for their coalition allies to “show a resolute position to deter Turkey.”

Turkey, however, is building up support for a potential ground offensive among its allied Syrian militias.

Turkish forces west of the Euphrates and in Afrin, where they have previously carried out military operations with Syrian proxies, called on Syrian militias who want to join a ground operation to register their names, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/311020183
Last edited by Anthea on Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Are Turkeys threats to Western Kurdistan a headache for US

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Re: Turkey shelled Kurdish forces in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:45 pm

Are Turkeys threats to Western Kurdistan headache for US

Turkish shelling has hit positions of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), as Ankara warns of a new offensive to clear the militia from its border

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has renewed his threats to crush Western Kurdistan.

Turkish shelling has hit positions of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), as Ankara warns of a new offensive to clear the militia from its border.

The United States has scrambled to contain the tensions, as it seeks to retain the YPG as a key partner in its battle against a resilient Islamic State group.

HOW SERIOUS ARE THREATS?

Since 2016, Turkey has carried out two operations against Kurdish forces in Syria, the last of which saw Ankara-backed Syrian rebels seize the northwestern enclave of Afrin in March.

Erdogan has since repeatedly threatened to march east into more Kurdish territory, but analysts say the timing adds weight to the latest warnings.

Turkey brokered a deal with Russia in September to stave off a regime attack on the northwestern rebel bastion of Idlib, thus freeing it up to set its sights on Kurdish-held territory further east.

On the world stage, Ankara is feeling emboldened and seeks to score diplomatic points as Saudi Arabia, a rival regional heavyweight, grapples with global outrage over the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

And Turkey has seen its relationship with NATO ally Washington improve after it freed American pastor Andrew Brunson from detention last month.

With shelling east of the Euphrates River, analysts say Erdogan is testing the waters, specifically to see how the United States will react.

"He is trying to see how far he can go with military action in the areas east of the Euphrates before the US responds negatively," said Nicholas Heras, an analyst at the Center for a New American Security.

WHAT CAN US DO?

Turkey views the YPG as "terrorists", but for the United States they are a key ally in its fight against IS jihadists.

The YPG has spearheaded a Kurdish-Arab alliance, backed by the US-led coalition, that has pushed back the extremists from Syria's northeast.

But the battle is not yet over, and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance is still fighting the jihadists in the country's far east near the Iraqi border.

In response to Turkish shelling, the Kurdish-led SDF last Wednesday said it had temporarily halted its offensive against the jihadists in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

"The United States is stuck in the middle of all of this, wanting only to push the anti-ISIS offensive to a conclusion on schedule," said Aaron Lund of The Century Foundation.

"For the Syrian Democratic Forces, this must seem like a rare source of real leverage over the superpower," Lund said.

The day after the SDF announced it was suspending fighting, Turkish and US troops began joint patrols on the outskirts of the flashpoint city of Manbij.

They had been laid out as part of a "roadmap" reached by the NATO allies in June to avoid a clash, and under which YPG forces were to withdraw from the city.

On Friday last week, US forces started patrols in Kurdish-held areas along the Turkish border, sparking criticism from Ankara.

WILL FIGHT AGAINST ISIS SUFFER?

Syria expert Fabrice Balanche said Washington was in a bind.

"If the US give in to Turkey, they will no longer be able to count on the Kurds" to fight ISIS, he said.

The SDF has yet to announce a resumption of the military operation it launched in September to expel ISIS from its last holdout on the Iraqi border.

Kurdish affairs expert Mutlu Civiroglu said the pause in fighting sent "a clear message to the international coalition".

The SDF is saying, "We're partners, and when I am facing threats like this you have to stop it," he said.

Many fighters on the Deir Ezzor front hail from Kurdish-held towns on the Turkish border, Civiroglu said.

"Their homes, their families are under attack," he said. For them, "it's hard to focus on the fight -- already a very tough fight."

Analysts say Turkey's threats are only one of many hurdles to defeating the jihadists, who launched a deadly counter-attack during sandstorms late last month.

Current tensions could draw out the battle against ISIS in far eastern towns, including Hajin, but are unlikely to reshape the battlefield.

"ISIS is militarily defeated even though it's putting up a fight in Hajin," said Aaron Stein, a resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

"The US will get it done, eventually." =))

https://ewn.co.za/2018/11/07/turkey-thr ... for-the-us
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