Civilian sources in Tal Rifaat and Manbij, located in north and northeast Aleppo, expressed fear that the Turkish regime would launch an aggressive campaign to divide the region into two sections. The gambit would be the first stage to measure the actors’ reactions on the ground and save the credibility of the regime’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Previously, Erdogan vowed to occupy 30 kilometres of the Syrian border strip. Earlier this month, he scaled back this threat to occupying Tal Rifaat and Manbij.
In statements to al-Watan, the sources called on the militias of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to speed up a serious dialogue with Damascus to make “concessions” on the ground, which can prevent the surrendering of Tal Rifaat and Manbij. This move would prevent a repetition of the Afrin scenario, the disastrous repercussions of which are still fresh in people’s minds. In Afrin, the SDF failed to read the reality of the situation. It continued to entrench its position in the city, refusing to hand it over to the Syrian government to ward off Erdogan’s designs. Erdogan wants to occupy new Syrian areas under SDF’s control to establish what he describes as the “safe zone.”
The sources said that the field developments indicate that the Turkish aggression on Tal Rifaat and Manbij exists, despite Russian efforts to dissuade Erdogan from pursuing his plan to satisfy Turkish public opinion. Previously, Erdogan promised to establish a “safe zone” to deport one million Syrian refugees living in Turkey. In this context, the SDF must speed up its coordination with Damascus to avert a humanitarian tragedy which will ravage its popular base in the areas threatened by the invasion.
The sources addressed SDF’s leaders by saying that it is not enough for the militias to declare in the media their willingness to coordinate with the government and the Syrian Arab Army, allowing the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic to be raised over some sites or increase its reinforcements there. Instead, the army must replace SDF’s forces in the concerned areas. This would allow the army to dominate the strip and remove the pretext for Turkish aggression, rather than relying on digging trenches and bringing fighters to those areas.
The sources stressed that the SDF — as well as its political backers, the Syrian Democratic Council and the so-called Autonomous Administration — must operate transparently, in line with their interests. It should avoid the blackmail of the U.S. administration, which forces the SDF to stay away from Damascus and Moscow and prevents the country’s unification in the face of any external danger. The U.S. military presence in eastern Syria is temporary; Washington may sacrifice its Kurdish allies at any time, either due to declining U.S. interests in the region or intolerance spiking at the consequences of its occupation.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.