Kurds mobilize in Syria as Turkey poised for imminent attack

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham R-S.C. takes questions from reporters following a closed-door briefing on Iran at the Capitol in Washington Wednesday Sept. 25 2019

Signaling a further potential shift in the region's power balance, the Kurdish-led forces said they might start talks with the Syrian government and Russian Federation to fill a security vacuum in the event of a full US withdrawal.

Referring to critics of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull back U.S. troops from northern Syria, they said they disregard reality. He also insisted that the United States had not "abandoned the Kurds".

The Kurdish-led forces have denounced the major USA policy shift as a "stab in the back".

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters, allied with American forces in the fight against IS, as terrorists linked to outlawed Kurdish rebels within Turkey. "The TSK will never tolerate the establishment of a terror corridor on our borders. All preparations for the operation have been completed", the Turkish Defense Ministry said.

He wrote: "The Turkish military, together with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly".

USA forces evacuated two observation posts at Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn on Monday, a United States official said.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will visit the United States on November 13 at Trump's invitation, a White House spokesman said.

But there was confusion later on Monday when Trump tweeted that he would "obliterate" Turkey's economy if it did anything he did not like.

"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.

"Threatening Turkey's economy is a diplomatic catastrophe", she told her party's lawmakers in a speech in parliament.

Ankara regards the YPG as a terrorist group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought the Turkish state for more than three decades.

Given that those same Kurdish groups have fought alongside USA forces against the Islamic State movement in Syria, Trump's decision was seen by prominent figures of his own Republican party as a betrayal.

Expectations for that assault rose after U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday abruptly announced that U.S. troops would step aside ahead of the Turkish push - a shift in U.S. policy that essentially abandoned the Syrian Kurds, longtime U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

"Naturally our preparations are along the length of the border with Turkey, and our forces are in a state of readiness", Mr Bali told Reuters.

In a written statement Monday, Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said the USA does not endorse a Turkish military operation in Syria and will not support it. Hoffman says the Pentagon will work with allies and coalition partner nations to reiterate to Turkey that its potential military operation in Syria would have "possible destabilizing consequences" for Turkey and for the region.

The captives are held in SDF facilities south of a safe zone initially proposed by Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said overnight it was Turkey's fundamental right to take the necessary measures for its national security against terror threats from Syria.

Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's strongest foreign ally, said it was not told in advance by Washington or Turkey about any agreements to pull USA troops.

The Hamza Brigade rebels from the National Army, the main rebel grouping that Turkey supports in northwest Syria, travelled in a convoy of buses accompanied by trucks loaded with ammunition, DHA said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey plans to resettle two million refugees in northern Syria, and Turkish media has said the draft resettlement plan involves a 151 billion lira (S$35.7 billion) construction project.

Turkey was also accused of forcing demographic change in Afrin by allowing Syrian Arab refugees to move into Kurdish areas after it pushed the YPG out.

The local authority, known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, says: "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".



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