Kurdish leader says Turkey invaded Syria to prevent Kurds from taking Raqqa

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Turkish army forces (R), and Kurdish YPG-SDF fighters (L). Photo: Jinda Ibrahim/ARA News

ARA News

Erbil – Syrian Kurdish leader and co-Chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim, said that Turkey wants to destroy all the Kurdish areas in Syria and that Turkey thinks that the ‘best Kurd is a dead Kurd’.

“We are still dealing with the mentality a dead Kurd is a good Kurd. They are planning the first and the second step,” he told the European Parliament on Thursday. “We believe that Turkey created Jihadists tool to use against the Kurds, now that Turkey sees Daesh [ISIS] defeated in Raqqa, Manbij, they cannot stay and they don’t want their tools to be destroyed,” he said about the Turkish intervention in Northern Aleppo.

“There was a very successful coalition between the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] and the US-led coalition against ISIS. We consider the Turkish invasion of north Syria was aimed to help ISIS and to prevent the Raqqa operation,” the Kurdish leader said.

“If they [Turkey and its allies] have the opportunity and see no resistance they will not only destroy Kobani, but also other Kurdish areas. They say it was a mistake in 2003 to allow a federal system to be created. They want to correct their mistakes by destroying the federation in north Iraq as well. We are dealing with this mentality,” Muslim said.

The Syrian Kurdish leader said that Turkey is violating international law by occupying another country’s land and that they will get stuck in northern Syria. “This means Turkey has some green light from the Russians and the United States to do so, but this wont succeed.”

“If you look to the relations between Turkey and Russia, it’s very complicated. They cannot just ignore the past and apologize by a letter and finish this problem,” he said. “Syria is very complicated. We have the Iranians, Hezbollah and others. It’s kind of a problem for Turkey. Maybe they invaded now, but how would they get out? They are not supported by the local people, and local armed groups are resisting them.”

Moreover, the PYD leader said the US established their relations with the Kurds due to the Kurdish strong resistance against ISIS. “Before they [US] were listening to others and they were getting their information from Turkey and others, but now they are discovering the Kurdish people [because of the fight against ISIS],” he said.

“We are trying to develop this further… We want relations on the diplomatic and political level. Not only with America, but also with Europe,” Muslim said. “Just a few years ago they refused to deal with the Kurdish people. But until now they [US] even refuse to meet Kurdish representatives. We know there is a ban from the other side [Turkey] and they are trying to do everything they can to prevent them from meeting the Kurdish people.”

The Kurdish leader also called the situation in Aleppo a tragedy. “The areas are being shelled by the Russians, Syrians, Iranian forces, and also groups supported by Turkey,” he said. “We want this tragedy in Aleppo to stop, the UN couldn’t do it.”

The PYD head said the Kurds are now controlling three neighbourhoods in Aleppo and protecting over 10,000 civilians that fled rebel areas. “We do our best to protect the civilians, and we hope for a ceasefire agreement. It’s important for this bloodshed to be stopped as soon as possible,” he said.

According to Salih Muslim, the SDF forces did not launch the Raqqa operation earlier because the US wanted them to fight there. “It’s not like that. Raqqa is very important for Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan]. Raqqa is the centre of ISIS and close to the Cizire and Kobani cantons, and all the bomb attacks that hit those two cantons came from Raqqa,” he said.

“ISIS was created just to kill the Kurds, so we Kurds cannot just stay comfortable in our homes and decide to let ISIS terrorists to stay in their capital of Raqqa,” he said. “Raqqa is important for the Kurds, Syria and the world.”

The PYD co-Chair said that the first stage of the operation is to besiege Raqqa, adding that this phase is almost completed. But going to Raqqa depends on the US-led coalition and international powers. “[It depends] how much they are ready to prepare such power to liberate Raqqa with the international alliance.”

“Once Raqqa is liberated, a multi-ethnic local administration will be established to run the city, a similar model to that of Manbij city,” he said. “We need to make the people of Raqqa decide for themselves. This will be for our benefit, for the benefit of Raqqa and also for the benefit of all of Syria.”

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