The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Saturday that it would “not hesitate to turn any unprovoked attack by Turkey into an all-out war” to defend the region of northeast Syria that it controls.
The SDF responded to a threat by Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan, who said on Saturday that Turkey will soon launch an “air and ground military operation” in northeastern Syria and warned it could happen “as soon as today or tomorrow.” The SDF is led by the Syrian Kurdish Militia YPG, who the Turkish government considers to be a terrorist organization.
In August, Turkey and the U.S. agreed to create a safe zone in Kurdish controlled Syria along the Turkish border to settle some two million Syrian refugees. Part of the deal was to clear the area of all the Kurdish fighters, which Erdogan complains the U.S. military has failed to do.
Washington has always hoped to avoid a military confrontation between Turkey and the YPG, U.S. troops stationed in Syria could get caught in the middle of a conflict between the two parties. The shortsighted policy of arming and backing an enemy of Turkey so close to their border was bound to have dangerous consequences.
Erdogan and President Trump spoke on the phone on Sunday and agreed to meet in Washington next month to discuss the issues with the safe zone in northeastern Syria. The meeting between Erdogan and Trump may delay any assault the Turkish president might have planned.