QAMISHLO, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – The US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance forces fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria on Tuesday said they would not allow Iraqi Shia paramilitary groups to cross into Syrian territories.
In an exclusive statement for Kurdistan24, Talal Silo, the spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said their forces would prevent the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, to enter SDF-controlled areas.
“If Hashd forces attempt to enter our areas, our forces [SDF] will fight them,” he said.
Silo’s statement came after the PMF, fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, announced they captured several villages on the border with Syria on Monday and began digging trenches.
The SDF spokesperson statement indicates that the Syrian Kurds may not allow the Iraqi Shia forces to use SDF territory to reach areas under the control of the Syrian army.
The territory taken by Hashd al-Shaabi militias is located near Iraq's Sinjar region, currently under the control of the PKK-affiliated forces known as the Shingal Protection Units (YPS).
Hashd al-Shaabi militias are taking part in the US-backed Iraqi campaign to defeat IS in the city of Mosul and the surrounding areas in the province of Nineveh.
On the Syrian side, the US-backed SDF forces, of which the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) is a key component, are conducting an operation dubbed the “Wrath of the Euphrates” to retake the city of Raqqa from IS.
The SDF liberated the strategic town of Tabqa and Syria’s largest dam south of the Euphrates two weeks ago after 50 days of fighting and with the assistance of a US-backed air drop.
Editing by G.H. Renaud