Kurdish forces to make ‘historical struggle’ against Turkey: SDF commander

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — General Commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Mazloum Abdi said the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces would make a “historical struggle” if Turkey launched a cross-border operation against the Kurdish areas in northeast Syria.

“We are ready to respond to any attack by the Turkish state,” Abdi said during a television interview on Friday. “We are ready and even stronger than before.”

On May 23, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would launch a cross-border operation against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a “terrorist group” linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Despite concerns by the United States, Erdogan renewed the threats last week, saying they did not need permission from any country to carry out the operation.

“We will make a historical struggle if the Turkish state launches attacks,” Abdi said.

The SDF commander further said the international community should “oblige” Turkey to commit to the 2019 ceasefire, reached between Ankara and Washington when the Turkish military attacked the Kurds in northern Syria.

“We are committed to the ceasefire but Turkey has not,” Abdi noted.

Regarding Russia’s stance, Abdi said Moscow had ensured the Kurdish forces that they would not allow any Turkish attacks on them.

He also said the group aimed to resolve the issues with Turkey through dialogue.

“We try to resolve the issue of occupied areas through dialogue. We want to resolve the issues with neighboring countries through dialogue,” he added.

Ankara has conducted three incursions into northern Syria since 2016, seizing hundreds of kilometers of land and pushing some 30 km deep into the country, in operations targeting mainly the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG forces.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned Turkey against any military operation against the Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria.

Blinken called on Turkey to stick to ceasefire lines established in 2019 after Erdogan renewed threats to “clean up” Tal Rifaat and Manbij of Kurdish fighters.

“It’s something that we would oppose,” Blinken told a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, according to AFP.

“The concern that we have is that any new offensive would undermine regional stability [and] provide malign actors with opportunities to exploit instability,” Blinken said.

The United States has partnered with Syrian Kurdish fighters to fight Islamic State (ISIS) in war-battered Syria. But Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters part of the PKK, considered “terrorists” by Ankara.

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