The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces Tuesday urged the United States and Russia to work for deescalation after Turkey launched deadly cross-border raids against its fighters and threatened a ground offensive.
Turkey launched a series of air raids on Saturday and Sunday against Kurdish armed groups in northern Syria and northern Iraq, following last week’s deadly bomb attack in Istanbul which Ankara blamed on those groups.
In northern Syria, Ankara said it targeted positions of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the main component of the US-backed SDF, which is considered a terrorist group by Ankara.
According to Britain-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 37 people were killed, most of them fighters, as well as 16 Syrian soldiers. Local Kurdish authorities reported 11 civilians killed.
Turkey’s operation “Sword Claw” came after a deadly bomb attack on November 13 in central Istanbul, blamed by Ankara on the YPG and the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who both denied responsibility.
“Our efforts are focused on deescalation and we will do everything in our power to achieve this through contacts with the parties concerned,” said SDF commander-in-chief Mazloum Abdi, whom AFP reached by phone from Beirut.
The Kurds control parts of northern and northeastern Syria, a country fragmented by the civil war that started in 2011.
“We are ready to defend our regions but we call on all parties, including the Russians or the Americans, to respect their commitments” to avoid a new Turkish operation, added Abdi.
The United States must “take a firm position to at least stop the bombing of civilians”, he said.