Senator Lindsey Graham, Washington D.C., September 27, 2018.
WASHINGTON,— Senior US Republican senator Lindsey Graham on Tuesday urgently warned Turkey against sending troops into Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) in northern Syria, in the latest of a series of mixed signals from the Trump administration.
Turkey said it would shortly begin an offensive after Donald Trump announced on Sunday he was pulling back US troops who had served as a buffer preventing the long-planned attack on Kurdish forces.
But Trump has blown hot and cold since his surprise announcement, also insisting the United States had not abandoned its Kurdish allies by pulling out of the area.
The Kurdish forces, who were crucial in the campaign to defeat the Islamic State group, are viewed as “terrorists” only by Turkey.
Graham, a close ally of Trump, on Tuesday addressed a tweet to the Turkish government saying, “You do NOT have a green light to enter into northern Syria.
“There is massive bipartisan opposition in Congress, which you should see as a red line you should not cross.”
After appearing to give the go-ahead to the Turkish offensive on Sunday, Trump then threatened to “obliterate” the country’s economy if it went too far.
Turkey has always pushed hard against US support for Kurdish forces in Syrian Kurdistan due to their alleged links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has fought a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
The Turkish government on Tuesday sent more armored vehicles to the border with Syria.
Graham on Monday had said he would introduce a sanctions measure against Turkey if its forces invade Syria and would call for its suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces.
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.
Turkey fears the creation of a Kurdish autonomous region or Kurdish state in Syrian Kurdistan could encourage separatism amongst its own Kurds, according to analysts.
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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