A Turkish source tells Al Jazeera that Ankara told the US and Russia that the SDF must withdraw within two weeks, or face a new operation by the Turkish military.
A Turkish source told Al Jazeera that Ankara has set a deadline for Russia and the United States to stop ground operations in northern Syria.
The official said on Tuesday that Turkey has ordered Moscow and Washington to force the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to withdraw within two weeks from Manbij, Tal Rifaat and Kobane (Ayn al-Arab).
Turkey will not extend this period, according to the official, and he warned that the alternative would be a war against the US-backed SDF, which is mainly made up of the Kurdish group controlled by the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Ankara considers the YPG to be the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a group known as “terrorists” by Turkey, the US, and the European Union. It has threatened a new operation against groups in northern Syria since June, and has increased preparations since the bombings in Istanbul that caused the PKK to kill six people on November 13.
The PKK and the YPG have denied any involvement.
In response to Turkey’s request, the Turkish government official said that the US proposed to reorganize the SDF and give Arab forces a greater role in controlling the three towns that Turkey wanted the SDF to leave.
However, Turkey said that the SDF’s control over the oil fields had to end before considering any American proposals.
The Russian side has also put its own interests in Ukraine and linked it to its support for Syria.
The SDF method
The SDF has tried to stop the operation planned by Turkey by leaning on both the Russians and the Americans.
The group, which is the main military unit that the US is relying on in the fight against ISIL (ISIS), said on Friday that it will not participate in the anti-ISIL and US operations because of the Turkish shelling and bombing from Turkey. crossing the border.
However, in an interview with the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat published on Wednesday, the head of the SDF, Mazloum Abdi, confirmed that the joint missions with the Americans will resume.
But Abdi rejected Turkey’s demand that the SDF withdraw from a 30-kilometer (18.6 miles) stretch of the border in favor of government forces, saying the latter were already in the area.
Abdi also said that he wants the SDF, which emerged in the early years of the Syrian revolution, but has grown significantly with the Syrian government, to be aligned with the Syrian army.
“The SDF is usually part of the Syrian army,” Abdi said, before adding that the group’s fighters should be given positions in the army, and that talks with Damascus are ongoing on the matter.
The SDF has long warned that fighting a new Turkish military operation would cost it resources to defend a prison holding ISIL fighters or fight ISIL sleeper cells fighting in Syria.
The US has said it understands NATO’s concerns about Turkey’s involvement in Syria, but has condemned the ground attack and said Turkish militants threatened the safety of US personnel.
The US-led coalition has supported the SDF with airstrikes, artillery and advisers since 2017, helping to initially retake ISIL territory and help clean up sleeper cells.