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US threatens to abandon Kurdish-led SDF if they work with Assad


The New Arab & agencies

Source: https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2019/2/18/us-to-abandon-kurds-if-they-work-with-assad?fbclid=IwAR0RFarL4nd3vNx1b5vPM6BZADj6-twnjGRYMK1oLxPsd9n09Ur0mQU9Eks

The United States will end its military support to the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting IS if it allies with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or Russia, a senior US general threatened on Sunday.

The threat was issued Monday by Army Lieutenant General Paul LaCamera, commander of the US led coalition in Syria.

The comments illustrate the difficulties facing the SDF as the US prepares to withdraw its troops by April.

The looming prospect of US withdrawal, announced in December, has sent Kurdish forces scrambling to rebuild ties with the Damascus regime, but talks so far have failed to reach a compromise.

LaCamera said "No" outright when asked if the US would continue to support the SDF if it allied with Assad, Reuters reported.  

"Once that relationship is severed, because they go back to the regime, which we don’t have a relationship with, (or) the Russians ... when that happens then we will no longer be partners with them," LaCamera told a small group of reporters.

He warned that US law prohibits cooperation with Russia as well as Assad and said "we will continue to train and arm them as long as they remain our partners".

Syrian Kurdish leaders hope to safeguard their autonomous region after all of the more than 2,000 US troops withdraw. The SDF fear hostilities from neighbouring Turkey, which has threatened to attack the Kurdish fighters it deems as terrorists.

The SDF, whose four year long battle with IS is drawing to a close, met on Sunday to discuss "the future of relations with the Syrian government".

The SDF stressed the need for Damascus to recognise the Kurdish semi-autonomous region. Although Kurdish forces and the Assad regime have mostly avoided combat throughout the war, Assad vows to recover all of Syria and opposes Kurdish ambitions.

Assad warned Syria's Kurds Sunday that their ally the United States would not protect them against a Turkish offensive.

"We tell those groups who are betting on the Americans that the Americans will not protect you" he said in a televised speech.

Nearly eight years into a war that has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions, Assad's forces control almost two thirds of the country.

Just two areas remain beyond its control: the rebel-held northwestern region of Idlib, and around a third of the country under control of Kurdish-led forces.

Though the fall of IS is imminent, this does not mean the end of the militant group. IS is believed to have sleeper cells across Syria and Iraq and sporadic insurgent attack continue.