Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander General Mazlum Ebdi spoke to Yeni Özgur Politika newspaper and said, “If the Turkish army attacks anywhere, it will turn into a great war. We have let everybody know. Turkey knows this, so do the US and France.”
Ebdi mentioned the July 19 Revolution and said: “From now on, we will be working to protect this path, complete the construction process and to achieve a democratic solution based on equal rights among peoples within the unity of Syria.”
THE SITUATION AT THE BORDER
Ebdi spoke about the border line: “Turkey has stockpiled a significant amount of forces and weapons at the border. And I will add this, so have we. Tensions are high. This allows for provocations. Any mistake can spark a flame.”
When asked whether they were expecting any attacks, Ebdi said:
“Eastern Euphrates and Afrin are not similar. These are two separate areas. It is not possible to repeat here what happened in Afrin. We won’t let that.
We made a strategic decision during the Afrin process. We didn’t want this war to spread. We wanted to keep the Afrin battle contained in Afrin, and it was contained. For us, Eastern Euphrates will not be like that. If the Turkish army attacks anywhere, it will turn into a great war.”
“IF WE ARE ATTACKED”
Ebdi clarified his “great war” comments:
“For instance, if Turkey attacks Gire Spi, the battle front will be from Derik to Manbij. This is our decision. We have let everybody know. Turkey knows this, so do the US and France. If there is an attack against us, the 600 km border will turn into a battlefront. That would mean a second civil war period in Syria.
Turkey’s strategy is to come take Gire Spi and Kobane, then stop. But if there are any attacks, the war will continue until Turkey withdraws.”
THE US’ STANCE
SDF Commander General spoke about the US’ stance on the matter:
“We have an alliance with the US to fight against ISIS, which currently happens in Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa areas. If Turkey attacks us, YPG forces within the SDF will withdraw. Then, the fight against ISIS will stop. In fact, ISIS would recuperate. If we leave, the regime will enter the area to fill the void. Our joint efforts with the US and the coalition will be damaged.
The US does not want that. There are 73 states in the coalition. None of them want to see this cooperation fail. This is an international matter. As such, there is serious pressure on Turkey. This was not the case for Afrin.
The US’s position to avoid a war is positive. There are ongoing diplomatic efforts, they are pressuring Turkey to prevent an uncontrollable war. The US Secretary of Defense, Chief of Staff, Secretary of State have all spoken with their counterparts in Turkey.
It is not a matter of trust, that is the US’s problem. We have determined our stance and made our preparations. We will fight. Eastern Euphrates won’t be like Afrin.”
Ebdi spoke about the discussions on a buffer zone:
“In 2018 Erdogan said they finalized the preparations and would launch an operation to the east of the Euphrates. In 7 years, there have been no attacks against Turkey from our side. Our very presence is what they have a problem with. Look, we have been at war for the last 7 years. We don’t want a new, huge war. If there is war, it will be big. There won’t be a truce. We asked our allies to go discuss the matter. We asked US Special Envoy James Jeffrey to mediate. He said he would be happy to. That was how the process started. At first this wasn’t a project. We stated that we would not attack, that there was no threat from us. In the end the process continued.
Erdogan and Trump had a phone call where the Safe Zone project emerged. We as the SDF prepared our own proposal and submitted it to the US. Our project was very reasonable.
“LOCAL FORCES SHOULD GOVERN”
This is an issue of borders. Turkey wants a 30 km deep safe zone. We argue it could be 5 km deep. We accept a 5 km deep safe zone. We could withdraw the YPG forces from that area. We would have local forces to take their place.”
Ebdi said by local forces he means people from Kobane, Serekaniye, Qamishlo and Gire Spi: “We could also remove heavy weapons and weapons with a range to reach Turkey from this 5 km area. Some of our weapons have a 20 km range. We can pull these out of range as well. If these are ‘threats’, we are willing to remove that threat. Turkey says outsiders are governing the area. So we say, alright, let’s have locals govern. That would solve the issue.”
“A NEUTRAL FORCE SHOULD PATROL”
SDF Commander General said Turkey must commit to not attack: “We want an international force to patrol the area. It could be the Coalition or another force. Turkey is not neutral, we want a neutral force.”
“THEY MUST LEAVE AFRIN”
“We have accepted Turkish soldiers to be part of the patrols for now, on condition,” said Ebdi: “We want all people of Afrin, without exceptions, to return to their lands. Their gangs must leave Afrin. The confiscated goods and property must be returned to the people of Afrin. People brought from elsewhere to be settled in Afrin must be removed. All these must happen under guarantee of international powers, and control of the Council of Afrin. If this happens, as a gesture of good will Turkish soldiers could be part of the patrols.”