As Turkey contemplates to widen its military endeavor in northern Syria to keep Kurdish expansion in check, Syrian Kurds moved to form a new rebel force to fight against Turkey and its allies, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Wednesday.
SDF, a major umbrella fighting group that comprises of Syrian Kurdish forces or YPG, and various Turkmen and Arab forces, announced the installation of the new force particularly tasked with resisting Turkey’s further intrusion to northern Syria.
Called “Rebel Forces,” the militia was formed in al-Shahba in Afrin, north of Aleppo.
“The Rebel Forces pledge our people that we will fight terrorism in our country and expel the agendas of the Turkish army,” SDF said in a statement.
The SDF vowed in the same statement that its allies, under auspices of al-Bab Military Council, will take the city back from Turkey-backed forces.
The formation of the new militia came as Kurdish forces, under U.S. air support, are locked in a fight against Islamic State in Raqqa, and feel threatened by Turkey’s consideration of a new operation against the Kurdish militia.
After securing a more pliant army leadership at a meeting to reshuffle the top brass at an annual Supreme Military Council (YAS) meeting in early August, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently signaled an expansion of Turkish military mission in Syria to curb the strength of Kurdish militia.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim chaired an extraordinary security meeting on Aug. 9 with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci, Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan.
Turkey has recently deployed additional troops, artillery and tank units near the Syrian border. The tension between the Turkish troops and Kurdish force in Afrin has put the U.S. and anti-ISIS international coalition in an awkward position.
“The Coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” Press Office of CJTF-Operation Inherent Resolve told The Globe Post in an emailed statement.
“We urge all forces to concentrate their efforts on our common enemy and the greatest threat to regional and world security, ISIS.”
“Operations that distract from this focus are counter-productive to the collective efforts of the 73 nations and partner organizations which make up the Coalition, that Turkey is a valuable part of,” the statement added.