British anti-ISIS volunteers condemn UK support for Turkey, demand support for Kurds

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Foreign YPG volunteers seen in the vicinity of Jarablus. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

The British government secured a multi billion pound fighter jet deal with Turkey after a visit by the UK Prime Minister Theresa May to Turkey last Friday.

British volunteers in anti-ISIS forces in Syria –YPG and SDF– say that Turkey only bombs the Kurds in Syria, and that the Kurds need more support.

During his meeting with Theresa May in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim asked for more support for the Turkish army and rebel operations in northern Syria, whose fighters also attacked the Kurds.

In response, the UK Prime Minister said that the United Kingdom would support the Turkish army.

Yildirim also vowed that Turkey would wipe out the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), although the Kurds have been the most effective partners of the US-led coalition against ISIS, and are now fighting to take Raqqa –the de-facto capital of ISIS– as part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“I’m disgusted how Yildirim stated how they were preparing to clear the areas held by Daesh –whom they supported– and PYD and YPG. The PYD and YPG are not on any list and without the PYD and YPG, Daesh [ISIS] would already be in Turkey,” Joe Akerman, a former British volunteer with the YPG, told ARA News.

“They are using the war in Syria as a cover to go after the PYD and YPG. The only thing Turkey is interested in is eradicating the Kurds,” Akerman said.

Macer Gifford, also a former YPG volunteer, who is now active as an anti-ISIS campaigner, said in an interview with ARA News that the Turkish statements are “dangerous”.

“It’s important that Turkey refrains from making such dangerous and destabilizing comments. The Kurds have helped create the SDF, which is the only democratic, multi-ethnic force in Syria,”

“The United States, France and even Britain have worked effectively with the SDF for years. Turkey is conflating the war in Syria with its own domestic problems,” Gifford told ARA News. “This is to the benefit of Erdogan’s nationalist government and will certainly help stir up his conservative base.”

“On the other hand, the implication for Syria would be devastating. Turkey threatens the only chance to destroy the Islamic State quickly and restore lasting, democratic peace,” he said.

“Britain has long been criticized for being a spectator in the fight against ISIS. There are very few members of the Coalition that would allow Turkish officials to make such a comment during their visit. I would urge the UK to look again at its international obligations and condemn such divisive words,” Gifford concluded.

Jac Holmes, a British volunteer with the YPG who is fighting ISIS on the ground, told ARA News that the Turks have only been killing Kurds, and that any support to Turkey would endanger Western volunteers on the ground fighting ISIS.

“She [UK Prime Minister Theresa May] is making a deal with a fascist dictator [Erdogan], selling him jets and probably bombs. Which will probably be used against YPG and potentially against me. Turkey has bombed the YPG many times in the Manbij area,” he said.

This while, British jets have supported the SDF with air cover during the campaign against ISIS in Manbij, which ended in August.

“SDF is an important partner in tackling Daesh on the ground in Syria. Supported with air ops in Manbij for example,” British MP Tobias Ellwood had said in November last year. “[I am] proud that the UK provided the SDF with precision air support near Manbij Syria. Key to Defeating Daesh is international collaboration,” he said in an earlier statement in August 2016.

The UK support to Turkey could also endanger British Special Forces that are advising the SDF on the ground in the fight against ISIS and helped the SDF in northern Raqqa and Manbij.

However, British volunteers are not surprised by the UK deal with Turkey.

“The government makes the same deals with Saudi Arabia who are also using the weapons to kill civilians in Yemen,” Holmes told ARA News.

“Turkey is genociding the Kurds in Turkey, and trying to steal more of Syria” he said. “They are killing civilians in Rojava, and YPG fighters. Turkey bombs us and kill civilians across the border all the time.”

On 26 January, the Turkish army bombed the Kurdish village of Mazra near Ain Diwar in a latest attack on Syrian Kurds, killing three Kurdish civilians and injuring four, the YPG reported.

Therefore, the British volunteer urged the UK to give more support to the SDF, rather than signing deals with Turkey.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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