Hesitant of the U.S.' withdrawal plan, the PKK terrorist group's affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG) have manufactured a new "Daesh sleeper cells" sentiment.
According to U.S. officials, the YPG is trying to prevent Washington from halting its support after pulling out of Syria.
"We, as the SDF [the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the YPG] think that dealing with and finishing off [Daesh] militarily was the easy step, but now comes the more challenging phase," said the Military Council, consisting of YPG military commanders, on Sunday.
Claiming that the group would focus on the elimination of sleeper cells through precise "military and security campaigns" with support from the U.S.-led coalition, the YPG alleged that they will work on "drying up Daesh's ideological and economic ground," which the terrorists depend on.
The terrorist group also threatened Ankara, saying that they will focus on the elimination of Turkish-backed forces in northwestern Syria's Afrin. Despite saying that they would retaliate against a Turkish operation in areas controlled by the YPG, the council stepped back and also suggested they may be open "to solving problems with the Turkish state through dialogue and mutual respect."
The close U.S. partnership with the YPG since the Barack Obama administration has been always a sticking point in Washington-Ankara relations. Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people its 30-year terror campaign against Turkey. The U.S., however, while listing the PKK as a terrorist group, opted to continue its steadfast military support for the terrorist organization under the pretext of fighting Daesh, despite Ankara's warnings that the terrorist groups cannot continue its presence along Turkish borders. Meanwhile, the Syrian Network of Human Rights announced yesterday that the YPG has abducted 107 civilians since the beginning of the year, claiming that they are linked to Daesh. Four of these people are children, while seven of them are women, the network said.
US to maintain arms
support after pulloutThe YPG's efforts to attract more support seemingly paid off as Washington signaled a continuance of its arms support for the YPG after the withdrawal, despite the threat it poses against its NATO ally, Turkey. "We will continue to train and arm them as long as they remain our partners," U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, the commander of the U.S.-led coalition against Daesh said on Sunday, referring to their ally on the ground - the YPG.
In relation to the issue, Gen. Joseph Votel, chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), also made similar remarks on Friday, saying that Washington should keep arming and aiding the YPG following the planned the pullout from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Daesh. He added, however, that the U.S. needs to provide "different types of assistance" to the YPG after it seizes the final bits of Daesh territory.
In December, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw its troops from Syria, saying that Daesh is defeated. Trump's abrupt decision, nevertheless, has raised a range of criticism suggesting that Daesh continues to be a threat, and it is a betrayal for their ally on the ground, the YPG.
In the wake of the YPG threat near its border, Turkey was prepared to launch an operation east of the Euphrates to eliminate the group. Following, the U.S.' decision to withdraw its troops from Syria, Ankara decided to put the operation on hold temporarily. Yet, Washington is pushing Turkey's patience by dragging its feet on the pullout as it has been for every policy on the Middle East.
Commenting on the withdrawal process, U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey underlined on Sunday that the pullout will not be rapid but that they will proceed step-by-step.
"We are consulting very carefully and very closely with [Washington's allies]," he said, adding that they will not allow the Bashar Assad regime to take over the areas they withdraw from.
indebted to YPG
Not only Washington but also Paris has expressed its determination to prolong its support for the YPG after the terrorist group is left alone on the ground following the U.S. troops' withdrawal.
Gushing about the YPG, French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly wrote on Sunday in Le Parisien that their "partners on the ground give so much" and they are "heavily indebted" to the YPG, underscoring that they have a responsibility to prevent the YPG from becoming another victim in the new order to be established after the U.S. pullout. Parly added that they urged the YPG to reach a political agreement with the regime in the future despite the hurdles.
France is one of the main allies in the U.S.-led coalition fighting Daesh in Syria and Iraq, with its warplanes used to strike militant targets, its heavy-artillery backing YPG-led fighters and its special forces on the ground.
SYRIAN regime punishes
civilians with chemical attacks
In addition to the coalition's bombings that cause mounting death tolls among civilians, Syrian people also cannot escape from the bombings in the areas under regime control.
Research published by the Global Public Policy Institute revealed that there were at least 336 chemical attacks over the course of the civil war in Syria, with 98 percent of them carried out by the Assad regime. According to the report, approximately 90 percent of all confirmed attacks occurred in the opposition-held suburbs of Damascus. The report underlined that the regime has targeted civilian areas with its chemical attacks, rather than the frontline military positions of the opposition as a part of the strategy of collective punishment of populations in opposition-held areas.
The seven-plus years of war have left entire Syrian cities in rubble since March 2011. Entire neighborhoods have been wiped from the map and basic infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and roads, has been pummeled into dust. To date, an estimated 500,000 people have been killed in the war. So far, around 6 million people have been displaced internally and another 5 million were driven abroad as refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
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