Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Washington Fortifies ‘East Euphrates Border’… Ankara Worried

Washington Fortifies ‘East Euphrates Border’… Ankara Worried

Monday, 15 January, 2018 - 07:15
Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters carry their weapons in a village on the outskirts of al-Shadadi town, Hasaka countryside, Syria 19 February, 2016 [Rodi Said/Reuters]

Opposition factions and regime forces remained on Sunday locked in hit-and-run attacks after forces loyal to Bashar Assad advanced in the southern countryside of Aleppo by controlling around 79 towns.

On the other hand, opposition factions controlled new villages in the countryside of southern Idlib, following fierce battles with regime forces, accompanied by intense airstrikes.

Meanwhile, the opposition questioned on Sunday comments delivered by co-chairman of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) Saleh Muslem, who announced that Kurdish forces were planning to enter Idlib.

Kurdish sources told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Until now, there are no promises or a military agreement with the Syrian Democratic Forces to enter Idlib. Reports about this issue remain at the political level.”

Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel Rahman and a leader in the Free Syrian Army told Asharq Al-Awast that in addition to political causes, SDF forces lack the military power to enter Idlib.

Sihanouk Dibo, the PYD presidential advisor in northeastern Syria, refused to confirm the presence of an agreement or talks concerning the participation of the SDF forces in the Idlib battle.

However, he said: “We consider that Idlib could not be liberated without the participation of those forces.”

Earlier, Reuters reported that the US-led coalition is working with its Syrian militia allies to set up a new border force of 30,000 personnel, a move that has added to Turkish anger over US support for Kurdish-dominated forces in Syria.

In an email to Reuters, the coalition’s Public Affairs Office confirmed details of the new force reported by The Defense Post. About half the force will be SDF veterans, and recruiting for the other half is under way, the Public Affairs Office said.

The force will deploy along the border with Turkey to the north, the Iraqi border to the southeast and along the Euphrates River Valley, which broadly acts as the dividing line separating the US-backed SDF and Syrian regime forces backed by Iran and Russia, according to the news agency.

Also on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin said the US was taking steps to legitimize and solidify the YPG. “It's absolutely not possible to accept this,” he added.

Muslem told Asharq Al-Awsat that Turkey will sink in the Idlib swamp due to its intention to intervene in northern Syria militarily.

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