The Syrian Democratic Forces are going to close Syria’s border with Turkey and kick the Islamic State (IS) terrorists out of the main Syrian towns, which have been used by the militants to ferry fighters and supplies into the country.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) want to kick the Islamic State (IS) terrorists out of the main Syrian towns, which have been used by the militants to ferry fighters and supplies into the country, and to completely close Syria’s border with Turkey, the Izvestiya newspaper reported, citing a representative of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Russia, Abd Salam Muhammad Ali.
“The SDF’s primary goal involves sealing the border. We will make every effort to cut ISIS’s ‘air supply’ by preventing them from smuggling fighters and weapons from Turkey. When we succeed in pushing the terrorists out of al-Bab – and this should not take much time – the SDF will be able to advance further west to the city of Afrin,” Abd Salam Muhammad Ali said.
Al-Bab and Afrin are situated in the Aleppo province along the 60-mile corridor that the Turkish government has promised to close long ago. The full control over the city of al-Bab was taken by ISIS in November 2013, while Kurds have continued to control Afrin during the Syrian conflict.
The SDF said that their next target is al-Bab two days after they liberated Manbij, another strategically important border city in the Aleppo province, from the IS. About 12,000 fighters were involved in the operation that was started in late May.
Al-Bab has been viewed as a gateway to Aleppo that is currently divided into parts, controlled by the radical groups, including al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Abd Salam Muhammad Ali noted that Kurdish fighters are not going to clash with the SAA that cut all supply routes to the rebel-held areas in the city of Aleppo last month.
According to senior research fellow at the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Boris Dolgov, the main purpose of the SDF’s offensive in northern Syria is expanding the de facto autonomous region of Rojava.
“The Kurds are openly saying that they intend to create an autonomous region,” Dolgov said. “At the same time, the Syrian leadership criticized the Kurds for their plans, saying that all similar issues must be resolved according to the constitution.”
However, he also does not exclude the possibility of reaching a consensus on the Kurdish region in Syria between the Kurds and Damascus. Abd Salam Muhammad Ali has indirectly mentioned this issue, saying that “SDF victories in northern Syria will help the Kurds gain additional leverage during the talks on the country’s political future.”
In March 2016, the Kurds announced that a federal system of government in Rojava, a region that comprises three self-governing areas: province al-Hasakah, a part of al-Raqqa and Aleppo, has been established by them.