Mittwoch, 30.11.2022 / 14:06 Uhr

US-Personal wird aus Rojava abgezogen

In Syrisch-Kurdistan eskaliert die Lage weiter:

Al-Monitor has learned that all US civilian staff, including diplomats, have been evacuated to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, as Turkey continues to target SDF assets as well as critical civilian infrastructure, notably oil installations, power plants and grain silos. Medical facilities have also been hit.

David Eubank, the founder of the Free Burma Rangers, an aid organization that operates in conflict zones, was in northeast Syria up until Sunday. He told Al-Monitor that the locals were “terrorized” by ongoing Turkish attacks and felt deeply betrayed by the United States. Asked if civilian areas were being targeted, Eubank responded, “Absolutely.”

A regional official speaking not for attribution to Al-Monitor confirmed today that the Americans were still in Erbil.

A State Department spokesperson told Al-Monitor on background, “As the Department of Defense has said, recent airstrikes in Syria directly threatened the safety of US personnel who are working in Syria.” The spokesperson declined to confirm that US personnel had left northeast Syria, saying, “We do not as a general policy comment on the movement of personnel.”

In the past when Turkey threatened to attack, coalition troops would make a show of force, flying large US flags on their vehicles as they drove through the imperiled towns. There have been no such displays this time.

The spokesperson did not respond to Al-Monitor’s query as to whether the United States was mediating between Turkey and the SDF to prevent a Turkish ground offensive, saying the United States did not comment on private diplomatic conversations. Well-informed sources briefing Al-Monitor said Turkey was spurning all mediation efforts and is on the warpath.

Kobane reinforced that view, saying that contrary to media reports, the commander of Russian forces in Syria, Alexander Chayko, had not made any demands of him during their recent meeting but that he had told the Russians to adhere to the terms of the cease-fire agreement brokered by Russia to end Turkey’s last invasion of northeast Syria in October 2019. Manbij and Kobani, formerly under US protection, were ceded to regime and Russian forces. The Biden administration could well cite former President Donald Trump’s responsibility for the withdrawal of US troops from those areas for its inability to keep Turkey out of them. Al Jazeera and al-Araby al-Jadeed reported today that Russia was seeking to convince Damascus and the SDF to withdraw its fighters from Tell Rifaat to prevent a Turkish ground offensive. Turkey has given Moscow “more time” to broker such an agreement, the Arab media outlets reported.

Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces were meant to leave Tell Rifaat and Manbij under the Sochi accord. But Ankara insists they never did and use Tell Rifaat to launch attacks against Turkish forces inside Afrin, the Kurdish-majority city that was occupied by Turkey in 2018.

But Iran, the other big stakeholder in Syria and unmentioned in the reports, would need to be persuaded as well. Kobane’s tone suggested the SDF was in no mood to cede further territory.

Kobane said there were more regime troops than SDF forces deployed along the Kurdish-controlled zone’s common borders with Turkey in keeping with that accord. But Turkey is violating that agreement and a separate accord that was brokered by the United States in 2019, hitting targets deep inside the Kurdish-controlled zone, including the joint US/SDF facility in Hasakah. Kobane said Turkish attacks were putting some million civilians' lives at risk.