The YPG held a press conference with a Russian military official, announcing the defeat of ISIS east of the Euphrates River in Deir ez-Zor province, on Sunday. Photo: YPG
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish forces have announced they are entering a new phase in northern Deir ez-Zor province after the military defeat of ISIS and asked for coalition and Russian backing as they work to maintain peace in the liberated areas.
"We thank the international forces: the International Coalition and the Russian forces including their commanders in Hmeimim [air base] for offering air support, logistical advice, and cooperation on the ground” following the defeat of ISIS in rural areas east of the Euphrates River, stated the General Command of the YPG, the Kurdish armed force in northern Syria, in a statement released following what the YPG said was a joint press conference with Russian military officials on Sunday.
Russia has not immediately issued a statement.
The YPG are the dominant force within the US-led coalition-backed SDF that were battling ISIS in northern Deir ez-Zor province. Their forces fought the extremist group on the east side of the Euphrates River, parallel to a Russian-backed Syrian army operation against ISIS across the river.
The two sides maintained a deconfliction line, though did clash a couple of times. In September, Russia warned the United States that it would target the SDF in the province if provoked
. Both sides accused the other of opening fire on them.
The YPG stated on Sunday that it hoped cooperation, including air support, would continue as they enter a new, strategic phase focused on ensuring peace in the liberated areas.
The Kurdish forces have established local councils in areas they have liberated, such as Manbij, Tabqa, and most recently in Raqqa. The YPG stated that they will do the same in Deir ez-Zor, based on democracy and autonomy and asked for international assistance.
"We request the international actors inside Syria, chief among them the United States and Russia, to become guarantors of peaceful and democratic solutions in future Syria," the statement read.
The YPG said they will remain in the liberated areas until local forces are able to assume control of security and expressed their readiness to form a joint operations room with partner in the war against ISIS.
In Raqqa, the coalition is supporting internal security forces that are now responsible for security in several neighbourhoods in the city.
As the focus shifts
from fighting ISIS to maintaining security and stabilization, the United States is reviewing its military support for the Kurdish force.
“The YPG is armed and as the coalition stops offensive [operations] then obviously you don’t need that, you need security, you need police forces, that is local forces, that is people who make certain that ISIS doesn’t come back,” US Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Friday, confirming the Pentagon would stop arming the Kurds as President Donald Trump recently told Turkey.