EXCLUSIVE – A Kurdish general told Fox News that NATO ally Turkey plans to carry out a massive ground invasion in Syria, targeting the same Kurdish groups the US military has partnered with and relied on to fight against ISIS in northeast Syria.
The attack could endanger nearly 1,000 US troops stationed in Syria.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News, the top general of the Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces, General Mazloum Abdi, said his forces would no longer be able to help the United States fight ISIS because they are facing Turkish attacks.
“We did not freeze joint actions against ISIS together with the international coalition on purpose,” General Mazloum said through an interpreter. “But as I say, we had to stop this action on the spot because we are under tremendous stress from a possible Turkish incursion into our areas.”
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Turkish mortars, airstrikes and drones began targeting Kurdish positions in Syria and Iraq in the wake of the November 13 Istanbul terror attack, which Turkey blamed on Kurdish groups.
General Mazloum said the attacker was from ISIS and condemned the attack. He warned that Turkey is using it as a pretext to ethnically cleanse the Kurds. Turkish warplanes attacked a military base that the US military shares with these Kurdish fighters on the outskirts of Qamishli, some 30 miles from the Turkish border.
The United States has relied on the SDF to fight ISIS and for intelligence to target ISIS leaders like Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.
In a strongly worded statement Wednesday, the Pentagon said it is “deeply concerned” about the escalation that threatens efforts to defeat ISIS and endangers the lives of US personnel working in Syria with local partners to defeat the terror group. .
“An immediate drawdown is necessary to maintain focus on the mission to defeat ISIS and to ensure the safety of personnel on the ground committed to the mission to defeat ISIS,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, press secretary for the Pentagon. Fox News in a statement.
“The recent airstrikes in Syria directly threatened the safety of American personnel working in Syria with local partners to defeat ISIS and maintain custody of more than 10,000 ISIS detainees.”
There are now around 900 US soldiers on the ground in Syria who do not have Kurdish partners in the SDF to control ISIS.
US forces were 300 meters from the SDF base in Hasakah, Syria, at the time of the Turkish airstrike on Tuesday.
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General Mazloum called on the American people and the American government to stand up for the Kurds.
“I want the American people to show the same position that they showed in 2019 when we were again under pressure from the Turks,” he said. “We are again under the threat of being ethnically cleansed here by the Turks. And I call on the government and the people of the United States to stand up for their Kurdish friends here.”