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Jerusalem, Israel – Turkish Govt Deadly drone strikes against US-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria have escalated ahead of a threatened full-scale offensive.
Four people were reportedly killed in a drone strike by Turkey on Sunday in a village on the Syria-Turkey border.
The latest attack drew criticism from the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), a US-allied force that helped defeat ISIS. This army is mainly composed of Kurds. According to local reports, the SDF blamed both Russia and the US for allowing the attacks, saying the Turks could not have launched them without US and Russian permission.
“Since July 20, we have had nine people killed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), 13 civilians and four internal security forces. All targeted by Turkish drones,” said Sinam Mohammed, a representative of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) in the US.
Mohammad told Fox News Digital: “Turkey is threatening a military attack. They’re using drone strikes. Now it’s escalated.”
In a joint statement after a four-hour meeting between the President of Turkey last week, Dr Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, the two strongmen “reaffirmed their determination to act in coordination and unity in the fight against all terrorist organizations” in Syria.
The opaque joint statement did not refer to Russian flexibility on allowing a high-intensity Turkish military offensive in Syria.
Dmitry Peskov, Spokesperson for Vladimir PutinAccording to the Interfax news agency, “Military-technical cooperation between the two countries is on the permanent agenda and the fact that our interaction is developing in this sensitive area shows that, overall, our entire range of mutual relations is at a very high level.”
Russia’s military presence, including air power in Syria, has complicated Erdogan’s burning desire to invade Syria and create a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border.
Erdogan has claimed that Kurdish forces in northern Syria who helped the US drive out ISIS are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey. Turkey classifies the PKK as a terrorist organization. The US strongly disagrees with Turkey over the SDF and values its Syrian Kurdish allies.
The official Twitter account for US Central Command (CENTCOM) Condolences on the death of Salva Yusku, deputy commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, who was killed by a Turkish drone on July 22.
US Central Command tweeted “Salwa was a critical SDF leader who led forces in the fight against ISIS from the height of the battle to defeat the vile ideology in post-Syria in 2017. CENTCOM extends its condolences to the families of these 3 SDF fighters, the people. Northeast Syria and our SDF partners. .”
US officials and SDF veteran observers have noted that Salwa played a key role in saving American lives in the war against ISIS.
Mohammed categorically denies any connection to the PKK. “It is not true to accuse these people of being PKK or terrorists. They were protecting the Syrian people from the Islamic State terrorist group.”
A representative of the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC told Fox News Digital “It is important to note that PKK/YPG attacks on Turkish and civilian targets from northern Syria have exceeded 1,800 in the past two years. The group takes advantage of its presence on Turkish territory in places near the Turkish border. to launch drone attacks. It also digs tunnels under the Turkish border to launch attacks.”
YPG is an acronym for the People’s Defense Units, a Syrian Kurdish militia.
Mohammad said political parties in the Syrian Democratic Council want the US to impose a no-fly zone over northern Syria to prevent Erdogan’s intensive drone strikes and warplanes. America rejected this idea.
Mohammad noted that one proposal that appears to be gaining steam is an amendment to a congressional bill that would bar Turkey from using US F-16 fighter jets against US partners in the fight against terrorism.
The proposed law could be enacted to thwart Erdogan’s attempts to use US military air power to launch strikes against the SDF.
Mohammad, who is from the northern Syrian city of Afrin, said Erdogan “used air power” to carry out “ethnic cleansing” in Afrin in 2018. Turkey ousted the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and captured the city four years ago.
Mohammad said Turkish-backed military groups raped Kurdish women and confiscated Kurdish property. According to Mohammad, Turkey’s demographic goal is to “replace the Kurdish population with other peoples who are not from the region.”
She said “Afrin underwent massive population change and the majority of Kurds (300,000) as well as Arabs were displaced.”
In 2018, SDF foreign relations chief, Redur Xelil, told Reuters that “the Turkish government is settling Turkmen and Arab families in the villages of Afrin where they forcibly evicted their people and distributed the goods of the people of Afrin to the new settlers.”
In 2020 Michelle BacheletThe UN human rights chief called on Turkey to launch an “impartial, transparent and independent investigation into the events” that had been verified by the UN, saying that “those responsible for what may have happened must be held accountable. Some examples, amounting to crimes under international law, including a war crime.”
A representative of the Turkish Embassy told Fox News Digital that “the operation manual of the PKK/YPG relies on terrorism and black propaganda against Turkey”. “In that context, the allegation of ‘ethnic cleansing of the Kurds’ is completely false,” he said. He said Turkey “fights against the PKK/YPG terrorist organizations, not the Kurds.”
Turkey’s representative concluded that “the continued ignoring of our calls and the appeasement of the PKK/YPG terrorist elements in Syria has led to the resurgence of DAESH. [Islamic State].”