IS militants hit US-backed Kurdish fighters in north Syria

09 Octobre, 2019, 14:08 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham R-S.C. takes questions from reporters following a closed-door briefing on Iran at the Capitol in Washington Wednesday Sept. 25 2019

The Kurdish-led civilian administration in northeastern Syria has issued a "general mobilization" call along the border with Turkey, as Ankara masses troops ahead of an imminent invasion.

Addressing lawmakers ahead of the voting, head of parliament's National Defense Committee Ismet Yilmaz said that Turkey's ultimate target in the northern Syria was to end the existence of all terrorist groups. The first was in 2016, when Turkey and Syrian opposition fighters it backs attacked areas held by the Islamic State group west of the Euphrates River.

In Ankara, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Turkey was intent on combating Syrian Kurdish fighters across its border in Syria and on creating a zone that would allow Turkey to resettle Syrian refugees there.

On Monday, Trump threatened to "obliterate" Turkey's economy if it did "anything outside of what we would think is humane". The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces became the main US -backed force in Syria in the fight against IS.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Turkey to show restraint and avoid military action in the region, adding that US forces should leave the region.

"Turkey is rightfully anxious about its southern borders". American troops must leave the region. However, state TV didn't mention the expected Turkish operation nor elaborate on the number of troops taking part in the drill in Qushchi in Iran's Western Azerbaijan province. The area is about 620 kilometers, or 385 miles, northwest of Tehran.

Trump later cast his decision to pull back US troops from parts of northeast Syria as fulfilling a campaign promise to withdraw from the "endless war" in the Middle East.

Trump insists that he was elected to wind down US military operations overseas and the moves could always be reversed.

Turkey says it is ready to advance into northeast Syria now that the United States has begun withdrawing troops from the Turkey-Syria frontier in an abrupt policy shift by U.S. President Donald Trump widely criticized in Washington as a betrayal of America's allies, the Kurds. It went on to call on the worldwide community and those countries fighting against ISIS "to carry out their responsibilities" to avoid a "possible impending humanitarian disaster".

US forces evacuated two observation posts at Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain on Monday, a USA official said.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, accused the US of playing "very risky games" with the Syrian Kurds. Lavrov said during a visit to Kazakhstan on Wednesday that the US first propped up the Syrian Kurdish "quasi state" in northeastern Syria and is now withdrawing its support. Russian news agencies carried Lavrov's comments and reported that Moscow has communicated that position Washington.

"We are helping the Kurds financially/weapons!", he added.

But the Free Syrian Army is accused by the United Nations of committing human rights abuses when it and Turkish forces invaded the Kurdish-held, Syrian city of Afrin in early 2018.

Gharib Hessu, a member of the Kurdish Movement for a Democratic Society in North Syria, denied any links between terrorist acts in Turkey and Rojava.

"Rather than work with Turkey, the USA chose to support the Syrian wing of the PKK, which the Turkish public holds responsible for decades of warfare and tens of thousands of deaths".

Trump's move was seen by critics as an abandonment of Kurdish forces which had been the key ally in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) group.

The area the Kurds call Rojava borders an autonomous region of Iraq known as the Kurdistan Regional Government, which Turkey says is used by the PKK to base its militants and launch attacks. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Raqqa is being Silently Slaughtered, an activist collective, reported an exchange of fire and a blast.

The key border town was one of the places from which United States troops withdrew on Monday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, UK-based activist group.

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