ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Wednesday denied rumors of a fresh military operation in Syria.
Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesperson and head of the media center in Ain Issa, denied reports that the Kurdish-led forces would launch a new operation with US support against Iranian-backed troops in Abu Kamal to cut a so-called Iranian land bridge through Syria.
“Some media outlets are circulating rumors of a possible military campaign being waged by our forces in the Abu Kamal area,” he wrote in a tweet. “We would like to emphasize that these rumors are purely fabricated.”
تتداول بعض وسائل الإعلام شائعات عن حملة عسكرية محتملة تخوضها قواتنا في منطقة البوكمال.— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) April 24, 2019
نود التأكيد أن هذه الشائعات محض اختلاق.
قواتنا ما زالت منشغلة بملاحقة تنظيم داعش الإرهابي شرق الفرات،و لا نخطط لأي عملية عسكرية.
نركز جهودنا هذه الفترة على اجتثاث داعش و تأمين المناطق المحررة
The semi-official Fars News Agency, which is close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), claimed the US, forces in Tannaf, and the US-backed SDF had plans to attack and “occupy” al-Mayadeen and Abu Kamal to cut the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad-Tehran road.
In a separate tweet, Bali said the SDF has not made preparations and has no intentions for a new military operation in Syria.
“We’re focusing on the fight against [the Islamic State], elimination of sleeper cells and uprooting its ideology in northern Syria and Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan] following fall of physical caliphate,” he emphasized.
Some experts have reported that pro-Iran forces are present in Syrian government-controlled areas. According to Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a former research fellow at the Middle East Forum, Damascus-run areas in eastern Deir al-Zor province are dominated by pro-Iranian forces and the Revolutionary Guard, notably in places like Abu Kamal and Mayadeen.
Nicholas A. Heras, a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told Kurdistan 24 that the SDF is not designed to be an anti-Iran force.
“The purpose of the SDF, the mission that its fighters signed up for, is to remove ISIS from their homeland,” he stated.
“Yes, it is true that some of the local fighters of the SDF would like to keep Iran out too, especially those from Deir al-Zor, but that is not the strategic purpose of the SDF,” Heras continued.
He cautioned that an SDF attack on Abu Kamal while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad still holds the city alongside Iran-backed militias “is an invitation for trouble.”
“It would be much better for the SDF to wait and see if ISIS takes Abu Kamal from Assad and Iran first, then moves on the city to take out ISIS.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany