SDF Cmdr. Gen. Mazloum Kobani (left) shows various operational points on a map to Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk, commander of CJTF-OIR, during a meeting near Ain Issa, Syria, on August 21, 2018. Photo: Staff Sgt. Brigitte Morgan | US Army
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The commander in chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces revealed that US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey has undertaken "serious attempts" to encourage Turkey to avoid an offensive into northeast Syria, Gen. Mazloum Kobani told Reuters.
“[Jeffrey] knows well that Turkish attacks will make the fight against Daesh fail and all the work between us will go to waste,” Kobani said, using another term for ISIS.
He gave a rare interview to Reuters on Thursday. Jeffrey has met with senior officials in Turkey over the last week.
Amid a growing troop presence in southern Turkey, the Pentagon warned Ankara not to attack
“We are ready for any attack and will respond strongly...within our areas,” said Kobani, a member of the predominately Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG). “Till now, our diplomatic attempts are ongoing to deter this.”
Turkey claims the YPG are the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a political party banned by Turkey and designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara, Washington, and Brussels. YPG denies the claims.
Through various means the US-led international coalition has sought to pacify Turkish concerns, despite its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, threatening to attack partnered forces of the coalition.
“If there is a Turkish attack, the YPG forces will be forced to come protect the borders, to defend their families,” he said. Without them, “the battle against Daesh is not possible.”
The YPG were pulled away from the battlefield twice before — once when the Turkish army and their allied Syrian militias invaded Afrin and then again last month when Turkish forces fired on Kurdish positions and villages near the border.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday that the United States has established two more bases in the Tal Abyad countryside north of Raqqa. The coalition does not confirm the location of its forward bases or outposts in Syria.
Mustefa Bali, the head of the SDF press office, issued a three-point statement on Friday saying fighting in Hajin remains, high-level coordination continues between the SDF and coalition, and three observation posts have been established in northeast Syria.
"The three observations posts have been established and continue their task," said Bali.
"Coordination between our forces and the international coalition is at the highest level with regards to running border patrols," explained Bali.
The SDF also reportedly controlled
Hajin town on Friday. Previous Observatory reports have made no mention of the YPG recently participating in the Hajin fight; although, several funerals for YPG fighters over the past month were held with the place of death listed in Deir ez-Zor province.
“They have decided to fight till the death. Daesh is still strong,” said Kobani.
Update: 3:27 p.m.