Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham militants on drill in Idlib. File Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, head of al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), says the jihadist group now in full control of Idlib would not stand in the way of a Turkish military offensive against Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates.
Quoted by the HTS-affiliated media outlet Amjad, Jolani said: “We consider the PKK to be an enemy of this revolution. It controls areas inhabited by large numbers of Sunni Arabs.”
“We are in favor of this region being liberated from the PKK ... We would not stand in the way of an operation against an enemy of the revolution,” he added, AFP reports.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is an armed group fighting for greater political and cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey. Although it denies fostering ties, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which makes up the backbone of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is widely seen as an extension of the PKK. The group is the main US ally in the fight against ISIS remnants in Syria's northeast.
Trump announced in December he would soon withdraw the 2,000 US troops stationed in northern Syria. America’s Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS fear Ankara will invade after the US departs.
Turkey has repeatedly threatened to attack the YPG east of the Euphrates.
HTS recently seized complete control of Idlib, the last Syrian opposition hold-out, forcing Turkish-backed rebels to retreat.