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Kurdish SDF calls on Russia, Iran to prevent planned Turkish military operation

July 17, 2022 at 9:49 am

A Turkish soldier stands near his armoured vehicl on November 26, 2019 [BAKR ALKASEM/AFP via Getty Images]

The head of the Kurdish-led militant group Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has called on Russia and Iran to help prevent Turkiye from launching a military offensive against its positions in northern Syria, as the threat of a new Turkish operation continues to loom.

According to the AFP news agency, the SDF’s chief commander Mazloum Abdi urged the involvement of Moscow and Tehran against Ankara’s aims in the region this week, accusing the US-led global coalition to defeat Daesh – also known as Operation Inherent Resolve – of taking a “weak” position that is “insufficient to end the threats.”

In May, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to launch a new military operation into the areas controlled by the Kurdish militias, which would be Turkey’s fourth such offensive in northern Syria. The operation is meant as an effort to clear the 30-kilometre-deep ‘safe zone’ in northern Syria from remaining Kurdish militant elements, in order to settle at least a million Syrian refugees there.

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Abdi also reiterated that after negotiating with Russia, Kurdish militant forces allowed the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to reinforce their troops in Kurdish-controlled areas, particularly in cities such as Kobane and Manbij in the north of the country. The threat of a renewed Turkish offensive had seemingly forced the SDF to strengthen ties with Assad, Russia, and now Iranian forces in an effort to repel Ankara’s planned operation.

Abdi’s call for Russian and Iranian assistance is likely more diplomatic than military, as it comes only days before a summit that is to be held in Iran from Tuesday, in which Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi will host Erdogan and their Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a renewed set of negotiations on Syria and the ongoing 11-year-long conflict.

If Moscow and Tehran heed the SDF’s call, they may be expected to attempt to discourage Ankara from its planned military operation.

READ: Iran-Turkiye military confrontation in Syria ‘highly likely’, former Iranian diplomat says