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Syria's kurds reaffirm their ability to defend themselves without US troops

SYRIAN Kurds today reaffirmed their ability to defend their territory from threatened attacks from both Turkey and jihadist groups after the United States decided to withdraw troops.

Democratic Union Party (PYD) international relations spokesman Salih Muslim said that the war against Isis was not over, despite proclamations by US President Donald Trump, describing the decision to withdraw its forces as “abrupt.”

However he stated that US forces were not based in Syria to protect the Kurds, saying they had never relied on them and it was “their business” to decide whether they stay or go. 

Mr Muslim warned that Washington’s decision to pull its troops out of Syria, where it has operated illegally as part of an international coalition alongside the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), was connected to Turkey’s recent threats to launch a ground invasion.

“What they agreed on, what conditions they set behind the scenes is not clear,” he said. “In terms of timing, it doesn’t seem to be far removed or independent from [that].”

“It is not empty threats that [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan says he will do this or that – apparently they have been discussing these with the US. We don’t have anything more concrete but looking at what happened and what has been said, this is how we read and analyse things.”

However Mr Erdogan appeared to backtrack on his plans after claiming last week that a ground invasion would take place in a matter of days.

As he “cautiously” welcomed the US withdrawal plans he said in a speech in Istanbul: “We had decided last week to launch a military incursion in the east of the Euphrates… Our phone call [with Mr Trump], along with contacts between our diplomats and security officials and statements by the US, have led us to wait a little longer.”

Turkey has criticised Washington over its support for the SDF and its Kurdish component the People’s Protection Units (YPG) which Ankara deems a terrorist organisation linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party.

In January, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch, an illegal invasion and occupation of the city of Afrin in northern Syria.

It allied with jihadists from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and has been accused of a genocide against Kurds with reports of chemical attacks and extrajudicial executions.

Mr Erdogan claimed that he was ready to launch a new operation alongside 15,000 FSA troops and planned to take control of the Kurdish stronghold of Manbij.


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