SDF leader expresses concerns over Turkish threats to US CENTCOM chief

Mazloum Abdi expressed concerns that a Turkish operation could negatively impact the fight against ISIS.
Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi, right, met with General Michael Kurilla on an undisclosed date (Photo: SDF Press)
Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi, right, met with General Michael Kurilla on an undisclosed date (Photo: SDF Press)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi expressed concerns over Turkish threats to attack northern Syria during a meeting with the Commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), General Michael Kurilla, this week. 

Since May, Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch a new military operation in northern Syria to dislodge SDF forces from Manbij and Tal Rifaat. 

According to an official SDF press release issued on Wednesday, Abdi expressed concerns in the meeting over the negative impact a new Turkish operation will have on the fighting against ISIS.

He also expressed concerns it could affect the security of the notorious al-Hol camp that hosts thousands of ISIS families and prisons with thousands of ISIS detainees. 

They discussed the security threat ISIS poses to al-Hol and those prisons. 

Abdi said there is a need "to intensify the international and local efforts to contain this case and reduce its risk."

Moreover, General Michael Kurilla reportedly said that the U.S. military and government continue to oppose any "potential Turkish aggression against the north and eastern Syria."

During a press conference last Friday, the SDF leader warned that ISIS plans to attack the al-Hol camp.

"If a Turkish attack in fact comes down, we're going to potentially have ISIS 2.0," Brig. Gen. Claude K. Tudor Jr. of the Air Force, the Commander of the Special Operations task force, working to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, told the New York Times.

He also agreed with the SDF's assessment that "ISIS is looking to attack another prison or do something in Al Hol."

During a seminar on July 13 at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC, Dana Stroul, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, said the US-led coalition is funding new detention facilities.

Moreover, she said that the U.S. strongly opposes a new Turkish operation in northern Syria "because ISIS is going to take advantage of such a campaign."

In a report on Monday, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said that "fighting between Türkiye and the SDF along the Syrian-Turkish border almost certainly would relieve pressure on ISIS."

Apart from the U.S., the two other primary stakeholders in the Syrian conflict, Russia and Iran, also oppose any Turkish operation despite a recent trilateral summit in Iran on Syria.

Read More: Tehran summit: Erdogan reaffirms intent to attack Kurds in Syria; Iran draws closer to Russia

Russia's special presidential representative for Syria on Tuesday said that Russia is trying to convince Turkey "not to use force", Russia's state news agency TASS reported.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains adamant that the SDF must be removed from Manbij and Tal Rifaat.