Following meeting with Russian military chief, SDF head calls on Assad regime to stand with the SDF

Speaking in an interview with the Russia Today channel, Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the US-backed ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) militia said on Sunday that the Assad regime forces’ main concern is protecting the Syrian borders, calling on the regime to take a decision to stand with the SDF in the face of a possible Turkish attack.

The statement and interview followed a meeting between Abdi and the commander of the Russian forces in Syria, Alexander Chayko during a visit by Chayko to the northeastern province of al-Hasakah, on Sunday.

According to unnamed sources quoted by Hezbollah’s Al Mayadeen outlet, the meeting had "discussed the Turkish threats to launch a ground operation and ways to take measures to prevent the operation from taking place," with Chayko "reintroducing the idea of the deployment of the Syrian army along the border strip, at a depth of 30 km."

Chayko had previously met with Abdi in 2020 to discuss coordination with the Turkish side regarding raids on a Kurdish site.

Abdi explained that the SDF’s forces are providing backing on the borders with a Russian guarantee, while the regime forces are present on the borders with Turkey and inside some cities. He suggested that Turkey has not yet obtained the green light to start the ground military operation, pointing out that the SDF " takes Turkey's threats seriously”.

The SDF head said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is testing everyone by threatening a ground military operation, explaining that the continued "weakness" of the US and Russian positions means that the process will begin on the ground.

The commander of the SDF militia warned that the Turkish bombing is creating a "dangerous" security environment in northeastern Syria, claiming that an imbalance has occurred in protection and that a number of ISIS families have fled from the Al-Hol camp.

Abdi had previously said that the United States had a "moral duty" to discourage Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from ordering a ground attack on northeastern Syria, indicating that he had received intelligence "about Turkey's request from its local proxies to prepare for a ground attack." However, he asserted, the administration of US President Joe Biden can still persuade his counterpart Erdogan to back down.

Mazloum stressed that Turkey's strategy is based on "announcing a military operation" and preparing for it, in order to determine the reactions of the United States and Russia, noting that if Turkey does not see "a strong opposition from the main players, they will move forward," and explaining that, up to the present moment, "the reactions are not enough to prevent the Turks from launching this operation."

Meanwhile, pro-regime media websites said that the Armed Forces Command has sent military reinforcements and armored vehicles to the city of Ayn al-Arab, renamed Kobani, northeast of Aleppo Governorate, in parallel with the continued Turkish air and artillery bombardment targeting the SDF in the area.

The sources stated that at least 20 tanks and armored personnel carriers arrived at the area where Assad's forces are stationed, with heavy artillery and machine guns delivered, indicating that the decision to deploy reinforcements and armored vehicles came after heavy bombardment of the area by Turkish forces.

Kurdish sources had previously revealed that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) rejected Russia's proposal to hand over the Syrian border areas with Turkey to Assad's forces, and to withdraw 30 km from the border with Turkey, during a meeting that took place at Qamishli Airport on Friday.

The sources said that "a meeting took place between SDF officials and the Russians at Qamishli Airport regarding the possible Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria, where the SDF delegation rejected a Russian proposal to hand over the al-Shareed border area with Turkey to the regime and withdraw from the area at a depth of 30 km."

Al Mayadeen reported that Russia is receiving positive indications from Ankara and Damascus about the leadership in both countries being open to making conciliatory steps towards one another and about hopes for a Syrian-Turkish rapprochement, Russia's special presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, told reporters on Wednesday, November 23, following the 19th round of the Astana talks on Syria.

"We hope that we will gradually witness a certain Syrian-Turkish rapprochement, this is simply necessary because these are two neighboring states that should live in friendship. I think that the signals that we have regarding both Turkey and Syria's readiness to take certain steps towards each other, these are steps in the right direction, which will prevent such tragic incidents related to the death of civilians," Lavrentyev said.

Moscow believes the Kurds were "given the go-ahead" to carry out a terrorist attack in Istanbul, Lavrentyev added.

"We cannot say that these terrorist attacks, behind which, as our Turkish partners told us, is the PKK, are some kind of initiative on the part of this structure. Probably, after all, some kind of go-ahead was given to them," he stated at a press conference.

Photo: Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi (left) and Commander of the Russian forces in Syria, Major General Alexander Chayko. (Photo: Archive)