Photo: Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters
ISLAMABAD,— Pakistan has offered rare backing to Turkey in its offensive against Kurdish forces in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expected to visit Islamabad later this month.
Turkey on Wednesday launched an offensive in northern Syria targeting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, a key US ally in the five-year battle to crush the Islamic State group.
11,000 Kurdish male and female fighters had been killed in five years of war to eliminate the Islamic State “caliphate” that once covered an area the size of Great Britain in Syria and Iraq, Kurdish officials said.
The United States already plucked two of the most high-profile IS jihadists to have been captured alive and spirited them out of Syria.
It is Turkey’s third such operation since the start of the war in Syria and has been met with international condemnation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, however, called Erdogan on Friday to “convey Pakistan’s support and solidarity,” his office said.
“The prime minister told him that Pakistan fully understands Turkey’s concerns relating to terrorism,” it said, adding “Pakistan is fully cognizant of the threats and challenges being faced by Turkey having lost 40,000 of its people to terrorism”.
Khan told Erdogan that “Pakistan stands in full support and solidarity with Turkey,” it said.
“We pray that Turkey’s efforts for enhanced security, regional stability and peaceful resolution of the Syrian situation are fully successful,” Khan was quoted as saying.
Khan’s office said Erdogan would visit Pakistan later this month.
President Donald Trump has faced a firestorm of criticism for appearing to greenlight Turkey’s offensive into northeastern Syria, which began after Trump ordered US troops to pull back from the border.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday Trump had authorised — but not yet activated — “very significant new sanctions” to dissuade Turkey from further offensive military action.
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party 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 Syrian Democratic Forces 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.
See the video of Islamic State prisoners attempt to break jail amid Turkish attacks in Syria’s Kurdish region on October 11, 2019.
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