The Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria announced on Sunday that it had struck a deal with the Syrian army in order to combat an intensifying attack by Turkish forces in the region.
Turkey has embarked on major air and land offensives against The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who control a sizeable area of land in Syria’s northeast which runs along the Turkish border. The move comes just days after Trump announced that he would soon be pulling out US troops still stationed in the region.
On Sunday, the Kurdish-led administration announced that it had reached a deal with Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and that Syrian government troops would be deployed in the north in order to fend off the Turkish incursion.
“In order to prevent and confront this aggression, an agreement has been reached with the Syrian government… so that the Syrian army can deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to assist the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),” the statement said, according to Al Jazeera.
The statement added that the Syrian deployment would also help “liberate” areas held by Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups like Afrin, a city which was occupied as a result of the Turkish military operation in 2018.
Syria’s state-run SANA news agency reported that Syria’s army had begun moving north “to confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory.” The agency also condemned Turkish “massacres” against locals in the north.
The move represents a shift in alliance for the Kurds after US ‘stab in the back’
The surprise move represents a major shift in alliance for Kurdish forces, who were once the United States’ main allies in the region and had been fending off Islamic State militants alongside US troops for years.
The SDF has called Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw troops a “stab in the back” and has vowed to “defend our land at all costs.”
Turkey’s assault on Kurdish-held areas stems from the group’s ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party, also known as the PKK, which has long fought an armed conflict for Kurdish independence against Turkey. Turkey and other allies have labeled the PKK a terrorist organization, and Turkey has expressed concern that Kurdish forces along its southern border could pose a security threat in the future.
Videos have surfaced online which appear to show Turkish-backed rebel groups slaughtering Kurdish fighters. The US State Department also confirmed on Sunday that Havrin Khalaf, the civilian secretary-general of the Kurdish movement called the Future Syria Party, was captured and killed by Turkish forces.
On Sunday, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the US was officially preparing to withdraw its remaining 1,000 troops. The hasty pullout has reportedly left dozens of “high value” ISIS prisoners behindin the area gripped by chaos.