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Syrian Kurdish leader likens Trump's withdrawal of US troops to 'genocide'

Co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council Ilham Ahmed visited Washington [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 22 October, 2019

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A top official from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces slammed Trump's withdrawal of US forces from northern Syria as 'akin to genocide'.
A leader of Syrian Kurdish forces who have been attacked by Turkey says President Donald Trump's withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria was "akin to genocide".

Ilham Ahmed, a co-chair of the political arm of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), also told reporters that her message to Trump is "Stop these massacres".

Ahmed was in Washington for meetings on Monday. Among those she saw were senators who have sponsored a bipartisan measure sanctioning Turkey until it halts its invasion of northern Syria.

Two of those sponsors are South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham and Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen who say the US should keep a modest number of American troops in Syria and provide air protection for the Kurds.

Graham said the US should guard Syrian oilfields, and he called for an international force to guard a demilitarised zone between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday threatened to resume Turkey's military offensive in Syria "with greater determination" unless the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters is completed under a US-brokered deal.

"If the promises given to our country by the United States are not kept, we will continue our operation from where we left off with greater determination," Erdogan told reporters before departing for talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Read also: US betrayal pushes Syria's Kurds into clutches of regime

Following a deal with US Vice President Mike Pence last week, Turkey announced a 120-hour suspension of the offensive from last Thursday under which  Kurdish fighters were to withdraw to allow a "safe zone" to be set up along the border.

Erdogan was to meet with Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi later Tuesday as the end of the 120-hour deadline approaches.

"We will have the opportunity to discuss steps to end (Kurdish fighters') presence in regime-held areas," the Turkish leader said. 

Erdogan last week said he was not bothered by the Damascus regime's presence in several regions along the Turkish border.

Erdogan also firmly rejected a call by French President Emmanuel Macron to extend the ceasefire.

Read also: Betrayed Syrian Kurds in Qamishli 'throw food' at departing US troops

"There is no such proposal that was conveyed to me from Macron. Macron is in fact talking about such things mostly with terrorists," Erdogan said, referring to a meeting between representatives of the SDF and the French leader. 

"He preferred to communicate the terrorists' offer to us. France is not our interlocutor," Erdogan said, adding that Turkey was in touch with the United States over Syria.

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