Syrian Kurds yesterday issued a “general mobilization” call in northeastern Syria along the border with Turkey, as Ankara poised for an imminent invasion of the area in the latest major escalation in the war-ravaged country.
Turkey has long threatened an attack on the Kurdish fighters in Syria whom Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.
A Syrian war monitoring group, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported that people were fleeing the border town of Tal Abyad, which Turkey is expected to attack first.
Expectations of a Turkish invasion rose after US President Donald Trump on Sunday abruptly announced that US troops would step aside ahead of the Turkish push — a shift in US policy that essentially abandoned the Syrian Kurds, longtime US allies in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.
However, Trump also threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if the Turkish push into Syria went too far.
Turkey has been massing troops for days along its border with Syria and vowed it would go ahead with the military operation and not bow to the US threat over its plans against the Kurds.
A senior Turkish official yesterday said that Turkey’s troops would “shortly” cross into Syria, together with allied Syrian rebel forces to battle the Kurdish fighters and the Islamic State.
In its call for mobilization, the local civilian Kurdish authority known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, urged the international community to live up to its responsibilities as “a humanitarian catastrophe might befall our people” in the region.
“We call upon our people, of all ethnic groups, to move toward areas close to the border with Turkey to carry out acts of resistance during this sensitive historical time,” it said.
The statement said the mobilization would last for three days.
The Kurds also said that they want the US-led coalition to set up a no-fly zone in northeast Syria to protect the civilian population from Turkish airstrikes.
Meanwhile, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov accused Washington of playing “very dangerous games” with the Syrian Kurds saying that the US first propped up the Syrian Kurdish “quasi state” in northeastern Syria and is now withdrawing its support.
“Such reckless attitude to this highly sensitive subject can set fire to the entire region, and we have to avoid it at any cost,” he said during a visit to Kazakhstan.
Earlier yesterday, Islamic State militants targeted a post of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the northern Syrian city of al-Raqqah, which was once the de facto Islamic State capital at the height of the militants’ power in the region.
There was no word on casualties, but the observatory said the attack involved two Islamic State fighters who engaged in a shootout before blowing themselves up.
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