For the first time ever, on Wednesday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) conducted joint military exercises with forces affiliated with the “global coalition” near the Turkish border.
The exercises were announced by the director of the SDF’s media center, Farhad Shami, who said on his Twitter account that the drills took place in a border area between Syria, Turkey and Iraq. The location, in the far northeast of Syria, was the village of Takl Baql in the Dirk region.
The drills form part of “supporting security, stability, and the final elimination of ISIS,” Shami said.
According to local activists, the exercises and applications were conducted with live ammunition. The exercises involved TOWs, RPGs and Kalashnikov shells and American armour, along with several American officers and soldiers.
This is the first time such exercises have been conducted between SDF and the U.S.-led coalition.
The relevant area is about 10 km from the Turkish border and 4 km from the Iraqi border.
The military exercises were preceded by last Friday’s arrival of reinforcements of the “coalition” forces to the town of Yarubiya in the governorate of Hassakeh, northeastern Syria. The convoy consisted of 80 trucks carrying boxes of ammunition, fuel tanks, helmets, and protective vests.
It is noteworthy that the exercises took place in an area that Turkey considers “sensitive,” near the triangle of borders between Syria, Turkey and Iraq. Ankara considers this area a threat to its national security due to the stationing of Kurdish forces in the region.
For weeks, Turkey has threatened to carry out a military operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria. The project aims to control the areas of Tal Rifaat and Manbij in the countryside of Aleppo, an area relatively far from the border triangle concerned.
Last month, the SDF announced the suspension of its joint operations with the “international coalition” against the Islamic State in northern and eastern Syria. SDF did so in protest at the escalation it is facing by Turkey, which has resulted in the death of SDF leaders and fighters.
Although the suspension decision was not officially issued, news sites close to the SDF revealed that it had been taken. Separately, another media source in eastern Syria confirmed the decision to Al-Souria Net.
The SDF has recently lost several prominent commanders and fighters as a result of the bombardments carried out by Turkish drones, which happen on an almost daily basis.
The strikes are not limited to SDF leaders; they also target senior leaders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is included on international terrorist lists.
Notably, the active countries in northern Syria, especially the United States and Russia, have not commented on Turkey’s aerial bombing escalation.
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.