General Mazloum Abdi of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told an American public broadcaster, PBS, that Turkish President Erdoğan was testing America and called on the US to take a stronger stance against NATO member Turkey’s attacks on Syrian Kurds, who are US partners in fighting ISIS.
Turkish Armed Forces have been conducting airstrikes against Kurdish regions in northern Syria and Iraq since 20 November.
Operations and work carried out against ISIS by Syrian Kurdish forces together with the US forces in the region have stagnated due to Turkey’s attacks. The security of camps which are home to ISIS sympathisers and their families in the region is also at risk.
“All my soldiers and their focus have been distracted. They’re focusing on the protection of their families,” said SDF commander Mazloum Abdi to PBS NewsHour’s Nick Schifrin.
With Turkey’s announcement that it would soon launch a new ground operation in the region, Abdi believes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is testing the US and Russia. “If there is not enough reaction from them, then he will be able to carry out an operation within a short period, like a week,” Abdi said.
American officials stated that they privately conveyed their strongest messages against Turkey’s latest attacks, however, the SDF commander called for a stronger stance and public support:
“Here, we see that there is a weak position. There should have been a clear position regarding these violations. We see that this is not enough for what happened. And we hope that the communication that takes place in private channels will be sufficient to stop Turkey.”
As Turkey’s cross-border military operations continue for more than 10 days, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday that “there’s lots of reasons why these operations give us concern,” including civilian casualties.
“We also don’t want to see anything that would affect our ability to continue to put the pressure on ISIS and to affect our partnership with the SDF,” Kirby stated.
"We're grateful for the partnership that we have w/the #SDF & we have every expectation that partnership will be able to to continue" per NSC's Kirby
"What we want to do is to keep that partnership w/the SDF against #ISIS strong & sure going forward"
— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) December 2, 2022
“What we want to do is to keep that partnership with the SDF against ISIS strong & sure going forward,” he added.
Dozens of people have been killed by Turkish airstrikes on 90 sites in North and East Syria since 20 November.