Kurdish-led SDF threatens to turn to Damascus if Turkey launches incursion

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have said they will turn to the Syrian government for support if Turkey follows through with its threat to launch a new military operation into the neighbouring war-torn country.

The SDF’s priority is to reduce tension in northern Syria near the border with Turkey, but the Kurdish led-forces are also prepared for a long fight if Ankara carries out its threat, the Associated Press cited the group as saying on Tuesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last month said that his government was planning to launch a new incursion targeting Kurdish forces in northern Syria in a bid to link up two areas already under Turkish control.

The Turkish leader said the operation would aim to resume Turkish efforts to create a 30km (20 mile) “safe zone” along its border with Syria, according to Turkish media reports.

Turkey sees the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which forms the backbone of the SDF, as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for Kurdish self-rule for four decades, and thus and existential threat 

Since 2016, Turkey has launched four operations in northern Syria targeting the Kurdish militia, which controls swathes of territory at the Turkish border.

Earlier this month, the SDF warned against the new offensive threatened by Turkey in northern Syria, saying the incursion would create a humanitarian crisis and undermine its campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS).

SDF head Mazloum Abdi on Monday told Reuters that Damascus should use its air defence systems to repel any Turkish invasion.

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