US has 'moral duty' to prevent Turkish ground offensive in Syria: SDF commander
The commander of the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that Washington has a “moral duty” to stop Turkey from launching a ground assault into northeastern Syria, according to Axios.
SDF Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi said that his forces have received intelligence that Turkey was preparing a ground offensive, and added that the Biden administration should do more to convince Ankara to back off.
After sustaining heavy losses in the fight against the Islamic State militant group, Abdi said: "we believe, and our people do the same, that the US and others have a moral duty to defend the families of these martyrs and the people of this region."
Turkey has launched a series of devastating drone, air and artillery attacks on Kurdish positions in Syria over the past few days as part of Operation Claw-Sword, which began on Sunday. Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on Wednesday said that almost 500 Kurdish targets across Syria and Iraq were hit.
On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to launch a ground operation into Syria "with tanks and soldiers" despite international disapproval.
The SDF said that 18 civilians and four soldiers have been killed and more than 50 civilians injured in the recent Turkish strikes.
Ankara on the other hand claims that the SDF fired rockets into Turkey and killed two people, a claim the Kurdish-led group denies.
Turkey has always claimed that the Syrian-Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG), which make up the main component of the SDF, are a front for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU, and the IS.
The SDF, which is backed by the United States, has been instrumental in defeating IS in Syria.
Earlier this week, the United States had said that Turkish airstrikes in northern Syria jeopardise the safety of US military personnel and could undo years of progress against the Islamic State militants.