Syrian Democratic Forces head receives US officials
The head of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Mazloum Abdi received officials from the US State Department on Saturday, according to an official statement shared by the Kurdish-led body.
The US delegation was headed by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Ethan Goldrich and comes amid fears of a pending Turkish offensive on SDF territories.
"We discussed the need for de-escalation by all parties and importance of respecting ceasefire lines for stability," Abdi stated on Twitter, referring to the looming threat of a new Turkish offensive in northeast Syria.
The US delegation and the SDF also discussed the security and economic difficulties faced by northeast Syria and its humanitarian needs.
Welcome to DAS Goldrich. We discussed the need for de-escalation by all parties and importance of respecting ceasefire lines for stability. I expressed appreciation for USA providing crucial humanitarian and other assistance in areas liberated from ISIS. pic.twitter.com/F1tXfiDCoW— Mazloum Abdî مظلوم عبدي (@MazloumAbdi) November 14, 2021
Turkey backs a number of rebel groups in the northwest of the country and maintains a military presence that allowed it to carry out several successful offensives against the SDF over the past years.
In late October, media reports suggested Turkey was preparing to launch an offensive against the SDF-controlled towns of Tel Rifaat and Kobane (Ayn Al-Arab).
The SDF is an alliance of Kurdish, Arab, and other minority groups that control most of northeastern Syria.
It is considered by Turkey to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara.
Turkey has been extensively involved in the war in Syria, largely out of concern for growing Kurdish militancy near its border with northern Syria.
The SDF enjoys a privileged relationship with the USA for the vital role they played against the Islamic State group and for their perceived moderation.
This relationship was badly damaged in October 2019, when Turkey launched "Operation Peace Spring" to take over SDF territory.
Following a call between the Turkish President and then-US President Donald Trump, American troops pulled out from areas targeted by Ankara in time for the offensive.
This was widely considered to be a betrayal by the US of its Kurdish allies, which Washington justified by saying its partnership with the SDF was focused on combatting IS and not guaranteeing the security of the Kurdish-led force.
There are around 900 US troops in Syria, dedicated to fighting IS.