The head of a Kurdish group in Syria says about 50 Turkish tanks have been deployed to northern Syria, where the Turkish military earlier entered in an operation against Kurds and the Daesh terrorist group.
Elham Ahmad, the co-president of the Syrian Democratic Council, told RT on Sunday that 50 Turkish tanks had been deployed, under aerial cover by Turkish fighter jets, to the city of Jarablus in northern Syria.
The Turkish military forces entered Jarablus on August 24. They then joined anti-Damascus militants to gain control of the Syrian city from Daesh and Kurds, who were themselves fighting the terrorist group.
The Kurdish forces in the area were those of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which are backed by the US but are seen by Ankara as hostile.
On August 25, the YPG militants, a component of a Kurdish-Arab alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), began retreating from areas west of the Euphrates River to its east bank apparently under Turkish and US pressure.
However, commenting on the withdrawal of the YPG and the fact that the area is left to the rest of the SDF members, Ahmad said the withdrawal took place based on an agreement with the US-led coalition that has been purportedly bombarding Daesh in Syria.
Kurdish forces had earlier liberated Manbij — another Syrian city that, like Jarablus, lies to the west of the Euphrates — from Daesh.
One goal of the Turkish incursion into Syria was apparently preventing the Kurdish forces from further advancing.
Ahmad said control over Manbij had now been handed over to the city’s military council, which is allied with the SDF.
She said, however, the military council is currently fighting against Turkish-backed armed groups that are trying to reach the northern cities of al-Bab and Aleppo.
The US on Monday criticized the clashes between Turkish-backed forces and the SDF in northern Syria as “unacceptable” and called on all armed actors in the fighting to stand down and focus on the fight against Daesh.
In her Sunday remarks, Ahmad also accused Ankara of adding fuel to the fire of the Syrian conflict by supporting militant groups and facilitating their passage into Syria.
Syria has been the scene of a foreign-backed crisis since March 2011.