Apr 15 2019

U.S. pressing Syrian Kurds to accept Turkish troops - report

The United States is asking Syrian Kurds to permit Turkish soldiers to be stationed on the Syrian side of the border, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told Al Monitor. 

Turkey has been pressing the U.S. administration to move all Syrian Kurdish forces away from the border with Turkey, including major Kurdish cities such as Kobane and Qamishli.

Turkey considers these forces, mainly the People Protection Units as terrorists and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group that began a decades-long struggle for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey in 1984. Turkey and the U.S. State Department currently maintains a terrorist designation for the PKK.

US officials are pushing for “a limited number” of Turkish forces to be allowed to deploy on the Syrian side of the border, along a stretch of territory running from the east of the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, according to a senior official from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The source told Al-Monitor, “The subject has already been broached with us and we regard the presence of Turkish troops on our soil as extremely problematic and have made our position clear.” 
 

The U.S. administration’s Syria envoy, Ambassador Jim Jeffrey, has been vague in his responses to recent questions detailing the proposed buffer zone.

Syrian Kurdish leaders have rejected the idea of Turkish troops in northeastern Syria.

Earlier promises from U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw from the country have fallen short, and the United States has backed gone back on the decision for a full withdrawal. 

Jeffrey spoke during American-Turkish Council (ATC) meetings in Washington on Monday along with several other Turkish and U.S. officials.

During his talk, Jeffrey said there are still disagreements over the proposed safe zone, adding that the United States understands Turkey's security concerns over the Kurdish fighters that aided in the U.S.-backed coalition against the Islamic State.

Jeffrey reiterated that both sides are working on a buffer zone that does not include YPG forces.