ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – United States officials “threatened” Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militias not to join any Turkish assault on Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) where the US army keeps military bases and airstrips in support of Kurdish-led forces fighting the Islamic State (IS), Ankara’s state media reported on Saturday.
“Any involvement by the FSA [in a Turkish attack] will be interpreted an attack on the US and Coalition forces, which will in return lead to a direct conflict with the Coalition Forces and the United States,” the Turkish Anadolu Agency relayed what it called a message from Americans to the Syrian opposition.
“The US forces and the SDF are now intertwined. Therefore, the SDF cannot be attacked without the Coalition and US forces also being targeted,” an unreferenced quote in the agency’s report read.
The last sentence appeared to be an implied response to remarks earlier this week by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who threatened an all-out invasion of the region where SDF and US operate.
“Our target is not the American soldiers – it is the terror organizations,” Erdogan said.
SDF or the Syrian Democratic Forces is a Kurdish-dominated army, backed and armed by the Pentagon in the war on IS.
Erdogan called them “terrorist Kurds” during an address to a defense summit and said Washington could not deceive him into believing that they were also Arabs.
“We know the Arabs well, but we know terrorist Kurds as well,” Erdogan said in a blunt statement that made Turkey’s essentially anti-Kurdish policy all too apparent in contrast to the official rhetoric of “fighting terrorism.”
Turkey’s state media report mentioned no Syrian, American, or Turkish source.
There has been no reaction from any of the sides.
“You better keep away when elephants fight,” the Americans allegedly told FSA, according to what Anadolu wrote.
FSA along with al-Qaida affiliated groups have been instrumental for Turkey in its invasion earlier this year and current occupation of Afrin, a Kurdish region Erdogan promised to “give back to its rightful owners.”
US troops have exchanged fire with Turkish-backed Sunni hardliners, notably in the town of Manbij, west of the River Euphrates.
Syrian rebels, previously in 2016, ousted a contingent of US soldiers from the al-Rai town in the Turkish-occupied portion of northwestern Syria, calling the latter “pigs” and threatening to behead them.
Following Erdogan’s threats of an imminent invasion, tensions have risen in the Kurdish-majority towns along the Syria-Turkey border where the US army recently set up observation posts.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany