KURDISH FORCES ANNOUNCE DEAL WITH ASSAD GOVERNMENT TO FIGHT TURKEY
14 OCTOBER 2019 (SOURCE: NYTIMES) -Kurdish forces long allied with the United States in Syria announced a new deal on Sunday with the government in Damascus, a sworn enemy of Washington that is backed by Russia, as Turkish troops moved deeper into their territory and President Trump ordered the withdrawal of the American military from northern Syria.
The sudden shift marked a major turning point in Syria’s long war.
For five years, United States policy relied on collaborating with the Kurdish-led forces both to fight the Islamic State and to limit the influence of Iran and Russia, which support the Syrian government, with a goal of maintaining some leverage over any future settlement of the conflict.
On Sunday, after Mr. Trump abruptly abandoned that approach, American leverage appeared all but gone. That threatened to give President Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian and Russian backers a free hand. It also jeopardized hard-won gains against the Islamic State — and potentially opened the door for its return.
The Kurds’ deal with Damascus paved the way for government forces to return to the country’s northeast for the first time in years to try to repel a Turkish invasion launched after the Trump administration pulled American troops out of the way. The pullout has already unleashed chaos and bloodletting.
The announcement of the deal Sunday evening capped a day of whipsaw developments marked by rapid advances by Turkish-backed forces and the escape of hundreds of women and children linked to the Islamic State from a detention camp. As American troops were redeployed, two American officials said the United States had failed to transfer five dozen “high value” Islamic State detainees out of the country.
Turkish-backed forces advanced so quickly that they seized a key road, complicating the American withdrawal, officials said.
The invasion ordered by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which came after a green light from President Trump, is aimed at uprooting the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia that has been a key partner in the fight against the Islamic State. Turkey sees the group as a security threat because of its links to a Kurdish separatist movement that the country has battled for decades.
The Turkish incursion has killed scores of people, and left Kurdish fighters accusing the United States of betrayal for leaving them at the Turks’ mercy. That is what led them to strike the deal with Damascus, which said on Sunday that its forces were heading north to take control of two towns and to fight the “Turkish aggression.”
(NYTIMES) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/13/world/middleeast/syria-turkey-invasion-isis.html (IMAGE) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/13/world/middleeast/syria-turkey-invasion-isis.html