US forces continue patrols in Syria’s northeast in message to Turkey
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US-led coalition on Sunday continued American patrols on the border of northeast Syria for the third day, a spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said.
SDF Spokesperson Kino Gabriel said the coalition “ran joint patrols with the SDF along the Syrian-Turkish border during the last three days.”
According to Gabriel, one patrol covered the area between Kobani and Tal Abyad, the other patrol covered the area between Darbisiya and Ras al-Ain cities, and the final one between Qamishli and Derik.”
Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF press office, confirmed on Twitter on Sunday morning that a coalition patrol was “moving along the border between [Syrian Kurdistan] Rojava-Turkey, from Derbasiya city to Serekanyia city.”
SDF Commander Zinarin Kobani, meanwhile, told the local Hawar News Agency on Sunday that the joint patrols between the Syria-Turkey border were agreed on in a meeting with the US-led coalition.
A spokesperson for the US-led coalition also confirmed the patrols.
“The Northeast Syria patrols went out for the second time, but there is no established timetable for future patrols,” Army Colonel Sean Ryan, Spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), told Kurdistan 24.
The patrols began after Turkish cross-border attacks targeted the SDF-affiliated forces’ positions near Kobani, Tirbespî (Al-Qahtaniyah), Manbij, and Tal Abyad since Oct. 30 ahead of the start of joint US-Turkish patrols two days later.
According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), at least five were killed in the Turkish cross-border attacks, including one young girl in Tal Abyad.
On Friday, a Kurdish fighter told Kurdistan 24 the American government had approved these patrols after what happened across the border, noting that a plan to increase these patrols across the border to de-escalate the situation has been agreed on as well.
Kurdish officials believe the attacks were meant to pressure the US into more concessions on the city of Manbij.
In June, Turkey and the US agreed on a Manbij roadmap, which includes US-Turkish forces patrolling the demarcation line between SDF forces, and the Turkish-backed forces.
Since Friday afternoon, there have been no further Turkish attacks.
Aliza Marcus, a Washington DC-based analyst on the Kurdish issue who recently visited Rojava, said American patrols are a message to Ankara that Washington will not tolerate the cross-border assaults.
“The patrols send a strong message to Turkey that the US will not ignore cross-border attacks in this part of Rojava,” she told Kurdistan 24.
“Turkey’s shelling of the border area might have been a way to test US resolve – after Afrin fell to Turkish forces without any US intervention earlier this year, it’s possible that Ankara wanted to see what else they might be able to do.”
Moreover, on Saturday, US ambassador William V. Roebuck visited Hawar news journalist Gulistan Mihemed, who was injured on Friday, and wished her a speedy recovery.
Marcus said the US visit “is designed to make clear that Turkish military action against the Kurdish-led forces in this part of Rojava won’t be tolerated.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany