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SDF in Syria Wants 'Stronger' US Warning for Türkiye

SDF in Syria Wants 'Stronger' US Warning for Türkiye

Tuesday, 29 November, 2022 - 12:30
A fighter of the third corps of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army takes aim from a murder hole in a make-shift fortified position near Azaz in the opposition-held north of the Aleppo province, opposite the town of Minaq along the frontlines with areas under control by Syrian government forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on November 29, 2022. (AFP)

The head of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said on Tuesday he still feared a Turkish ground invasion despite US assurances and has demanded a "stronger" message from Washington after seeing unprecedented Turkish deployments along the border.

"There are reinforcements on the border and within Syria in areas controlled by factions allied to Türkiye. We noticed this and, yes, this is new," SDF chief Mazloum Abdi told Reuters by phone from Syria.

Turkish officials said the army needed just a few days to be ready for a ground incursion into northern Syria, which has been attacked with howitzer long-range weapons and warplanes by the Turks for days.

The bombardments come after months of threats by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan of a new ground invasion against Kurdish forces, which he considers to be terrorists.

Syrian Kurdish forces have received backing from Washington for years, but have also coordinated with Syria's government and its ally Russia, both seen as foes by the United States.

Abdi said he had received "clear" assurances from both Washington and Moscow that they opposed a Turkish ground invasion but wanted something more tangible to hold back Ankara.

"We are still nervous. We need stronger, more solid statements to stop Türkiye," he said. " Türkiye has announced its intent and is now feeling things out. The beginning of an invasion will depend on how it analyses the positions of other countries."

Abdi said he would not rely on Syrian air defenses after previously telling Reuters he hoped they would help defend his forces from Ankara's air strikes.

"Their position is weak compared to the Turkish army," he said.

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