Syrian Democratic Forces head receives US officials

Syrian Democratic Forces head receives US State Department officials
2 min read
15 November, 2021
The SDF Commander in Chief met with US allies on Saturday to discuss recent developments in northeast Syria. The Kurdish-dominated SDF are worried about an imminent Turkish offensive and count on Washington for support.
Around 900 US troops operate in Syria alongside the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces [Getty]

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.

Several SDF fighters were killed and wounded last week in a Turkish drone strike in northeast Syria, fueling fears of an imminent Turkish offensive against Kurdish-dominated parts of Syria. 

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.