Jesper Söder, a Swedish volunteer with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) inside Syria, said on Friday that the Turkish attacks against Kurdish positions in Rojava threaten the ongoing anti-ISIS Raqqa operation.
In an exclusive interview with ARA News, Söder said: “If Turkey continues its aggression and bombing we will need to halt the Raqqa operation until we know for sure that turkey won’t backstab us with a stronger invasion force or even more bombings.”
“We are going to liberate Tabqa town [in Raqqa province] from ISIS, but after that we might stall or wait with the Raqqa operation. I am sure this is going to happen if Turkey continues this aggression,” he said.
“But this decision is for the high command of the YPG and SDF to take. I am sure that no one wants this tension with Turkey to escalate. But if Turkey forces us, we will have to defend the people in Rojava and SDF areas,” Söder told ARA News. “We will do it to protect the people living within our borders.”
Washington-based analyst Nicholas A. Heras, a Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), told ARA News that the U.S. is angered by the Turkish air strikes that took place on 25 April, and other attacks on several Kurdish cities by artillery and tanks.
“The Turkish airstrikes were a shot fired across the bow of U.S. military operations in Syria. Although Turkey has legitimate concerns about PKK networks of reinforcement and resupply into eastern Turkey from Syria and Iraq, the Turkish airstrikes were also a calculated political message sent to the Americans,” Heras said.
“The message is: Don’t do Raqqa without us, and with the Kurds,” he added.
“The U.S. military for its part has rolled out an extraordinary public messaging campaign in support of the YPG. Despite demands from some YPG and YPJ leaders for the U.S. military to do more to punish Turkey, the fact of the matter is that the U.S military, under the orders of General Votel, is engaged in an extraordinary public campaign taking the side of a non-state actor over NATO partner Turkey,” he said.
“This is almost unprecedented that the U.S. military is sending a loud public and internationally transmitted message to a state actor, treaty ally that the United States thinks a local non-state actor partner force is the wronged good guy,” he added.
“The messaging from the American side couldn’t be clearer: YPG we got your back, and let’s do our job and kick the crap out of ISIS in Raqqa,” he concluded.
On Friday, the US army deployed troops at the Syrian-Turkish borderline to monitor the border and to prevent further Turkish attacks.
SDF official Dr. Nasr Haji Mansour told ARA News that the news that the SDF or People’s Protection Units (YPG) have halted the Raqqa operation are not true. “This is not true,” he stressed.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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