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Wed, 22 Jan 2020 19:42 GMT

Turkey Invites Isis to Return to Syria, Accuses SDF

Counterterrorism & Security

Ghada Ghaleb

Fri, 15 Nov 2019 14:47 GMT

The head of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mazloum Kobani, accused Turkey of encouraging Isis to reorganise and return to the areas from which it was expelled, citing evidence and videos. At the same time, he warned of possible attacks by the group on Western countries.

“The risk of Isis returning is very serious and dangerous," Kobani said in an interview with Sky News. "Many people do not know this but it is real. Turkish aggression has provided space and given hope to Isis elements and the cities that Turkey has entered will offer a base for Isis to reconstitute itself."

Turkey invaded areas in the north and northeast of Syria under the pretext of removing Syrian Kurdish fighters from the border until it stopped the military operation after the conclusion of an agreement with the United States to ensure the withdrawal of Kurds from those areas.

The commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces accused Turkey, a member of NATO, of encouraging Isis to return to areas from which they were expelled by Kurdish forces and the international coalition.

“Yes, that's true," Kobani said. "This is a serious accusation but there is evidence to prove it and many people know that." "This is not limited to ISIS elements,” he went on. “It also includes former elements in al-Nusra and al-Qaeda that we fought in 2013 and 2014."

Turkey denies the charges but videos filmed in the north of Syria, owned by the SDF and seen by Sky News, show that militants fought alongside the Turkish army. With regard to Isis prisoners held by the SDF, Mazloum Kobani said his forces could not hold them for long.

In conclusion, the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces warned that Isis would launch a major attack on one of the western countries, similar to the attack on the Manchester Arena in Britain in May 2017 in which 22 people were killed. Kobani said, "This is possible. It is one of the things that may happen in the future. We do not know the fate of these prisoners in Syria and the balance of power here is different."

Turkish army displaced half a million Kurds

In another context, the Syrian Democratic Forces said on November 14th in a separate statement that the Turkish army and factions loyal to it had displaced half a million Kurds. Last week the SDF said that Turkey had occupied 1,100 square kilometres of territory since the ceasefire, killing 182 SDF fighters and wounding 242 since the agreement was signed. It had also displaced 30,000 civilians since the ceasefire.

A statement published by the General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces on November 14th said that Turkey is violating the ceasefire and deliberately increasing the scale of the humanitarian disaster. “The Turkish state, its army and its armed factions did not abide by the cease-fire that was concluded between them and the United States and in consultation with the SDF on October 17th despite our forces fulfilling all the obligations stipulated in the agreement," the statement said."They continue to occupy Syrian territory outside the area of military operations agreed upon in Ras al-Ain, Tall Abyad and Tall Tamr, and displace and kill their residents and are still doing so despite the withdrawal of our troops," the statement added.

"The Turkish state has occupied since the day of the ceasefire and until now a geographical area estimated at 1100 square kilometres comprising 56 villages in addition to many farms and reedbeds in the north of the town of Ain Issa, east of the city of Kobani, east of Ras al-Ain and northwest of Tal Tamr," the statement continued, adding, "the Turkish state and its factions, through their repeated violations since the day of the ceasefire declaration, caused the displacement of nearly 30,000 civilians, in addition to the death and injury of dozens more."

Middle East