New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Syrian forces advance to block Turks

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

SYRIAN TROOPS are continuing their advance into the Syrian-Kurdish frontier zone to protect the civilian population and block the Turkish advance into the autonomous ‘Rojava’ Kurdish region, which until recently operated under US protection.

Turkish forces and their Arab auxiliaries have spread death and destruction in their wake as they battle with the Kurds for control of the border strip. Some 180,000 civilians including 80,000 children have fled to escape the wrath of the Turks and their auxiliaries, who call themselves the “Free Syrian Army” or the “Syrian National Army”.

Efforts to end the fighting between Turkish forces and the Kurdish militias have resumed following the collapse of a 120-hour cease-fire agreed by Washington and Ankara to allow the peaceful retreat of Kurdish fighters from the border zone that the Turks intend to hold as a “buffer zone” for an indefinite time in the future.

Talks between Russian and Turkish leaders resumed this week to end the fighting that began on 9th October when US imperialism began its withdrawal from northern Syria.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stated that Russian peace-keepers and Syrian troops will now patrol the area along the Syrian border with Turkey.

Russian military police deployed in the Syrian province of Aleppo have started patrolling north-east of the town of Manbij, and joint Turkish and Russian patrols are ready to be deployed to the Syrian border city of Ras al-Ayn. The Turkish Defence Ministry says that its ‘Peace Spring’ operation has accomplished its mission and the offensive is now over.

British and French commandos have also been pulled out of Rojava following the US withdrawal. Several hundred British troops, mainly Paras and units of the SAS that were operating under US command in the border zone, were forced to abandon their positions after the US withdrawal.

The Johnson government naturally reflects the US view and supports the Turkish incursion. Defence secretary Ben Wallace told NATO delegates at a meeting in London last week that: “Turkey needs to do what it sometimes has to do to defend itself.” But handing their one-time allies in northern Syria over to the tender mercies of the Turks has been condemned by a group of retired senior officers who had previously served in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The Independent says that a group of retired generals have “condemned” Trump’s actions in northern Syria. The generals, most of whom reportedly served in the Middle East and Afghanistan, expressed their views directly to the London daily.

General Sir Richard Barrons, the former chief of Joint Forces Command, who had served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, said that Trump’s decision has pushed the Kurds to turn to the Syrians for support.

This was echoed by General Sir David Richards, the former head of the armed forces and former commander of international forces in Afghanistan. General Richards told the Independent that: “On an emotional level, and certainly from a tactical perspective, what is being done to the Kurds is plainly wrong.”

General Richards also expressed another — and far more important — reason for his disappointment: “At another level these decisions also mean that Russian and Iranian influence will grow. I really can’t see how any of this protects or enhances Western interests. It’s quite the opposite.”

Major General Julian Thompson, the Royal Marines commander during the Falklands War, was, perhaps, more circumspect. He said: “There is obviously a Turkish viewpoint on this. But the way they are going about things has opened them up to a lot of criticism.

“With the Kurds it is a matter of treating allies with decency and honour. The Kurds did a good job against ISIS, and this is not the way they should have been treated. The way it was done? Well that seems to be the way this man Mr Trump does things.”