Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces consider cooperation with Syria’s al-Assad
Leaders of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are considering a partnership with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ahead of Turkey’s imminent invasion of northeast Syria.
“We are now looking into all options to deter a Turkish attack, including communicating with Moscow and Damascus in the event that there is an American void,” said a Syrian Kurdish official in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya English.
A potential collaboration between the SDF and al-Assad would be an alliance of convenience against Ankara. The two parties are not allied but have previously cooperated in the fight against ISIS in SDF-controlled northeast Syria.
The possible cooperation follows US President Donald Trump’s order on Sunday for American troops to withdraw from northern Syria, a decision that enables Turkey to attack Kurdish forces inside Syria.
Turkey considers the SDF as an enemy due to its links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish organization based in Turkey which has fought the Ankara government for Kurdish independence.
Trump’s order will remove the buffer of US troops preventing a Turkish assault on SDF-controlled territory. The order came into effect Monday with about 50 to 100 US special operators pulling out of the area.
The Turkish military carried out strikes overnight on Monday, targeting the Syrian-Iraqi border to prevent Kurdish forces using the route to reinforce northeast Syria, according to two unnamed Turkish officials cited by Reuters.
According to Reuters, Ankara aims to drive out Kurdish forces from northeastern Syria and create a space to resettle the two million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.
The SDF, with help of the US-led coalition, has spent years gaining ground in northern and eastern Syria against ISIS.
American political and military experts have expressed fear that pulling out troops would mean a possible resurgence of ISIS and would be a betrayal to the Kurds.
“We [The US] want to prevent an attack on the Kurds, who have fought against ISIS and now face the possibility of Turkish incursion or perhaps an attack by the regime,” International Crisis Group CEO Rob Malley told Al Arabiya English in an interview last month.
Former US General Jack Keane called the withdrawal a “betrayal” of the Kurds and “a strategic blunder that will have significant implications,” during an interview with Fox News on Monday.
President Donald Trump responded to the criticism on Tuesday insisting that the US has not “abandoned the Kurds.”
“We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters,” Trump tweeted.
The day before, Trump had threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” the Turkish economy if Turkey took any action he considered “off limits.”
The Kurds are an ethnic group who live primarily in northern Syria and Iraq, western Iran, and eastern Turkey. They were promised their own country after World War I by the Western allies, but that promise was not fulfilled after the modern state of Turkey was established in 1923.