ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Polat Can, a senior commander of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has accused Russia of pushing Turkey to attack Manbij and the east of the Euphrates.
“Russia has frozen the campaign on Idlib because Turkey pledged to fight Kurds in Manbij and East of the Euphrates. Russia did it in Afrin and wants to repeat the scenario. Russia wants to benefit through many ways,” he wrote on his official Twitter account on Sunday.
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened an all-out invasion of the region where SDF and US troops operate. The US responded strongly to Turkish plans to attack the area, and so far, there have been no signs of a Turkish offensive.
On Saturday, US officials threatened Turkish-backed rebel groups not to participate in the Turkish offensive, suggesting this would lead to direct conflict between the US and the Turkish-backed forces.
Can said Russia wants to take revenge on Kurds who allegedly “did not follow their orders,” as well as make problems for the US-led coalition.
In January 2018, Russia asked the Kurds to hand over the country’s northwestern district of Afrin to the Syrian government to stop the Turkish attacks on the region. However, they refused.
Moscow and Ankara have increased their alignment since Turkey, with Russian approval, launched the Euphrates Shield operation in Syria in August 2016. This was followed by President Erdogan’s apology to Russian President Vladimir Putin after Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet on the border with Syria in late 2015.
As a result, both Turkey and Russia are opposed to any US presence in support of Kurds in the northeastern part of Syria.
According to the SDF commander, Russia aims to create a bigger gap between Turkey and the West, Turkey and the Kurds, and turn Kurds into a common enemy for all regional powers.
Nouri Mahmoud, the spokesperson for the People’s Protection Units (YPG), told Kurdistan 24 that “Russian policy has nothing to do with Syrian people or Syrian unity. It’s only for Russian interests.”
“Supposedly, a big country like Russia should find a solution for the crisis not just ensure a place for [Russian] companies,” he added, referring to Russian company Wagne rowned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch with close ties to President Putin.
Wagner-hired Russian mercenaries in early February together with pro-regime troops to attack US-backed SDF forces near Deir al-Zor.
US Special Forces at the base called in airstrikes that killed 100 enemy fighters, and the attack was repelled. In total, four Russian military advisers were killed.
Until now, Russia and Turkey are working together.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova on Thursday said they “maintain contacts with our Turkish colleagues on all matters linked with the situation in Syria and the organization of counter-terrorist operations there,” about a possible Turkish attack on the East of the Euphrates.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany