US-backed Kurds threaten to turn to Damascus if Turkey launches incursion

BEIRUT — The US-backed and Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria say that they will turn to the government in Damascus for support should Turkey go ahead with its threat to launch a new incursion into the war-torn country.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, says today after a meeting of its command that its priority is to reduce tension near the border with Turkey but also prepare for a long fight if Ankara carries out its threat.

The announcement appears to be a message directed at the United States and meant to elicit pressure from Washington on Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to put aside his offensive plans.

Erdogan has repeatedly said over the past weeks that he’s planning a major military operation to create a 30-kilometer (19 mile) deep buffer zone inside Syria along Turkey’s border, through a cross-border incursion against US-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters — an attempt that failed in 2019.

Analysts have said Erdogan is taking advantage of the war in Ukraine to push his own goals in Syria — even using Turkey’s ability as a NATO member to veto alliance membership by Finland and Sweden as potential leverage.

On the ground, the situation has been tense with near daily exchanges of fire and shelling between the US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters on one side and Turkish forces and Turkey-backed Syrian opposition gunmen on the other.

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