LONDON,— Britain on Tuesday said it was “deeply concerned” by Turkey’s plans to target Kurdish militants in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) in northern Syria, telling Ankara it would not support the move.
Turkey has threatened an offensive in Syrian Kurdistan against Kurdish militias and US forces on Monday pulled back from Turkish border areas, opening the way for an invasion President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said could come at any moment.
The United States pulled back 50 to 100 “special operators” from Syria’s northern frontier on Monday, where they had served as a buffer preventing a long-planned assault by the Turkish military against Kurdish forces.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the troop withdrawal was a matter for Washington.
But he said London had been “consistently clear with Turkey that unilateral military action must be avoided as it would destabilise the region” and threaten efforts to defeat the so-called Islamic State jihadist group.
There is significant anger in Britain’s House of Commons over the US troop decision, and Foreign Office Middle East minister Andrew Murrison was asked to explain London’s response.
He told MPs that he did not know why US President Donald Trump said at the White House on Monday that Britain was “very thrilled” at the move.
“We have no idea where that came from,” he said, adding it “certainly wasn’t based” on a phone call between Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and his US counterpart Mike Pompeo on Monday.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the U.S.
has not “abandoned” its Kurdish allies inside Syria, continuing to give a mixed message to Turkey.
“We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters,” Trump tweeted.
The United States views the Kurdish YPG as a close ally in the fight against the Islamic State group.
The Kurdish PYD and its powerful military wing YPG/YPJ, considered the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and U.S.
has provided them with arms. The YPG, which is the backbone of the SDF forces, has seized swathes of Syria from Islamic State.
The Kurdish forces expelled the Islamic State from its last patch of territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz in March 2019.
But in December 2018 U.S.
President Donald Trump abruptly announced the pullout from Syria.
11,000 Kurdish fighters had been killed in five years of war to eliminate a “caliphate” that once covered an area the size of Great Britain in Syria and Iraq, Kurdish officials said.
Syria’s Kurds have established a semi-autonomous region in northeastern Syria during the country’s eight-year war.
In 2013, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD — the political branch of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — has established three autonomous Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan in 2013.
On March 17, 2016, Kurdish and Arab authorities announced the creation of a “federal region” made up of those semi-autonomous regions in Syrian Kurdistan.
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