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Pentagon: Kurds’ ethnic cleansing of Syrians ‘unacceptable if true’

The Pentagon said yesterday that if Syrian-Kurdish fighters had indeed deported Turkmen and Arabs from their land in north-eastern Syria during fighting with the Islamic State (ISIS), their actions were unacceptable.

Media reports accused Kurdish fighters, known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) who have been backed by US-led coalition, of engaging in “a kind of ethnic cleansing” against local communities by forcing their displacement.

Former Tel Abyad city council member, Ahmed Al-Haj Saleh accused the YPG of displacing thousands of Syrian Arabs and Turkmen from villages near Tel Abyad. Al-Haj Saleh told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency via telephone that “the violations began on 13 June where YPG units deported the entire population of Zahle village, 14 kilometres south of Tel Abyad, totalling about 500 people.”

“We certainly have seen these reports, and it is something that we are watching for,” said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren. “Without question it is something that we’ll find out unacceptable, if true,” Warren told reporters during his daily press briefing.

“As the Kurdish forces have moved to west [from Al-Hassakeh north-eastern Syria to Tel Abyad] the airstrikes have moved with them,” he explained.

Warren pointed out that it was a part of the coalition’s strategy to cut off ISIS’s supply lines to Al-Raqqah; the group’s self-declared capital.

Earlier, White House spokesman Josh Earnest warned that cutting off the supply route could lead to a “major flow of foreign fighters, illicit goods and other illegal activity into northern Syria and into Iraq” by the militant group.

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