ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Senior Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani on Tuesday expressed worries about the fate of Syrian Kurds in the face of an imminent Turkish invasion into their territories, noting that the Kurdistan Region was in contact with “several channels” in the people’s defense.
“We are very concerned about the recent developments in Western Kurdistan,” Barzani wrote in a tweet, referring to the part of Syria predominantly populated by Kurds, who also commonly use Rojava (Western) Kurdistan to refer to their region.
“We are in contact with several channels and we will do our utmost to ensure that the people of Rojava are not subjected to any more disasters,” the tweet concluded.
In a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday, Barzani relayed his concerns regarding the future of Rojava and urged Moscow to play an active role in preventing the situation from deteriorating any further.
Russia is a major player in the Syria conflict that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and displacement of millions. Moscow backs the Bashar al-Assad–led regime in Damascus, which has been taking back the war-torn country bit by bit. Turkey opposes Assad and arms rebel militias that control parts of the country.
The Syrian Kurds, who lead the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) —an entity that is in charge of areas to the north, northeast and east of the country—are being encroached upon from the north by Ankara and the west by Damascus.
The main Kurdish forces in Syria are the People’s Protection Units (YPG) who are at the head of the SDC’s armed wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Washington’s main partner force in the fight against the so-called Islamic State. The terrorist organization lost its last sliver of territory in March but continues to carry out sporadic attacks in areas it once controlled.
Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stated two weeks ago that he intends to establish a “safe zone” in northern Syria to resettle two million or more Syrian refugees, a statement he has made repeatedly in recent months.
Ankara also says it has security concerns regarding the SDF-held territories, considering the YPG a terrorist organization and an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey for expanded Kurdish rights.
On Sunday, the White House said that US forces would withdraw from the mentioned areas as “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria.”
In face of widespread criticism, US President Donald Trump seemed to walk back on effectively greenlighting Anakra’s march southward, stating, if Turkey does anything he considers to be “off limits,” he would “obliterate” its economy.
Thousands of residents of cities and towns that could be affected by the Turkish military operation organized protests on Monday, with one demonstrator claiming “Turkey will attack the region and let thousands of Islamic State terrorists get out from prisons.”
Editing by Nadia Riva