EXCLUSIVE – A Kurdish general told Fox News that NATO ally Turkey is planning to carry out a massive ground invasion into Syria, targeting the very same Kurdish groups the US military has partnered with and relied on to fight ISIS in Northeast Syria.
The attack could put nearly 1,000 U.S. troops stationed in Syria in harm’s way.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News, the top General for the Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces, General Mazloum Abdi, said his forces would no longer be able to help the U.S. fight ISIS because they are facing Turkish attacks.
“We did not freeze the joint actions against ISIS alongside the international coalition on purpose,” Gen. Mazloum said through an interpreter. “But as I say, we had to stop this action as we go because we are under tremendous stress of a possible Turkish incursion into our areas.”
Turkish mortars, airstrikes and drones began targeting Kurdish positions in Syria and Iraq in the wake of a November 13th terror bombing in Istanbul, which Turkey blamed on Kurdish groups.
Gen. Mazloum said the bomber was from ISIS and condemned the attack. He warned Turkey is using it as a pretense to ethnically cleanse the Kurds. Turkish warplanes struck a military base that the U.S. military shares with these Kurdish fighters outside Qamishli about 30 miles from Turkey’s border.
The US has relied on the SDF to do the ground fighting against ISIS and for intelligence to target ISIS leaders like Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.
In a strongly worded statement Wednesday the Pentagon said it is “deeply concerned” by the escalation which threatens efforts to defeat ISIS and endangers the lives of U.S. personnel who are working in Syria with local partners to defeat the terrorist group.
“Immediate de-escalation is necessary in order to maintain focus on the defeat-ISIS mission and ensure the safety and security of personnel on the ground committed to the defeat-ISIS mission,” Brigadier Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, Pentagon Press Secretary told Fox News in a statement.
“Recent air strikes in Syria directly threatened the safety of U.S. personnel who are working in Syria with local partners to defeat ISIS and maintain custody of more than ten thousand ISIS detainees.”
There are now around 900 US troops on the ground in Syria who do not have the Kurdish partners in the SDF to control ISIS.
US forces were 300 yards from the SDF base in Hasakah, Syria at the time of Turkish airstrike on Tuesday.
Gen. Mazloum called on the American people and the American government to stand up for the Kurds.
“I want the American people to show the same position they showed back in 2019 when we were again under stress from the Turks,” he said. “We are again now under threat of being ethnically cleansed here by the Turks. And I’m asking the government and the United States people to stand up for their Kurdish friends here.”