Turkey guilty of terrorism in northern Syria, says senior Kurdish official
By Ilhan Tanir
Turkey’s role in northern Syria is detrimental and the country is “engaging in terrorism itself,” a senior Syrian Kurdish official said during a panel in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
Turkey has conducted two military interventions into Syria. The first operation, called Euphrates Shield, primarily targeted the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2016 and the second intervention, dubbed Olive Branch, in 2018, targeted Syrian Kurdish Forces, namely the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the predominantly Kurdish militia that is a key component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara.
Ilham Ehmed, head of the Executive Committee of the Syrian Democratic Council, who is on a week-long visit to the U.S. capital for meetings, directed harsh criticism towards Turkey, calling on Western countries to support the Syrian Kurds following U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement in December for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria during a panel organised by American Rojava Center for Democracy at the National Press Club, Washington, DC.
Recalling that the Syrian Kurdish Forces lost over 8000 fighters and thousands more were injured during their fight against ISIS since mid-2018, Ehmed stressed that the northeastern Syria should be protected by coalition forces, not Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey should take control of the proposed safe zone in northern Syria, appearing to rule out a U.S. proposal that several allies police the region.
“We are insistent about our request for a security zone,” Erdoğan said to members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during a televised speech at parliament in Ankara on Tuesday. “It must be under our control, other countries may only provide logistical support.”
Ehmed also called for support to “remove Turkish forces out of Syria” during her rebuttal of Ankara from the U.S. capital and added all other foreign troops should be out of the war-torn country as well.
Referring to Turkey’s 2018 invasion of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin with the help of Syrian rebel forces, Ehmed said “what happened there should not be repeated and Turkey should not be allowed to come back again.” Ehmed ruled out a Turkey-controlled buffer zone altogether, saying such a scenario is “unacceptable.”
Ehmed described the situation in Kurdish town as “genocide against people of Afrin” by the Turkish-backed forces. Ehmed, just likeTurkish officials, called for the creation of a safe zone in northeastern Syria, however stressed its purpose as “protecting Kurds from Turkey.”
The Turkish president on Tuesday said no satisfactory agreement had been reached thus far on how the zone would be run and Turkey’s military preparations were continuing discussions with the United States on the matter.