Syrian Democratic Forces official warns of 'humanitarian catastrophe' ahead of expected Turkish operation

Syrian Democratic Forces official warns of 'humanitarian catastrophe' ahead of expected Turkish operation
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The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the rebel group in northeastern Syria made up largely of Kurdish fighters, warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” ahead of an expected Turkish operation in the area.

“The border areas of northeast Syria are on the edge of a possible humanitarian catastrophe,” SDF spokesperson Mustafa Bali said in a statement. “All indications, field information and military build up on the Turkish side of the border indicate that our border areas will be attacked by Turkey in cooperation with Syrian opposition tied to Turkey.”

“This attack will spill the blood of thousands of innocent civilians because our border areas are overcrowded,” he added. “Accordingly, we call on the international community and all countries of the international coalition against ISIS who fought together and triumphed over the so-called ISIS Caliphate to carry out their responsibilities and avoid a possible impending humanitarian disaster.”

The call to action comes after reports emerged that Turkey bombed the Syrian-Iraqi border in anticipation of an offensive against Kurdish forces, which make up the bulk of the SDF. The moves follow President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Support for impeachment inches up in poll Fox News's Bret Baier calls Trump's attacks on media 'a problem' MORE's announced withdrawal of U.S. forces from the area this week.

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Ankara has long viewed Kurdish forces in Syria as terrorist groups linked with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, a militant and political group that has been engaged in various states of conflict with the Turkish government for four decades.

The Turkish government also announced that it will cross into Syria “shortly,” saying that Kurdish forces can either defect or “we will have [to] stop them.”

The SDF warning comes after the White House announced late Sunday that U.S. troops would withdraw from northeastern Syria ahead of the offensive, seeming to clear the way for the Turkish operation against the SDF.

“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for … almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” Trump tweeted the next day.

“WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN,” he added.

The U.S. announcement drew bipartisan rebukes on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers accusing the White House of abandoning Kurdish forces who had fought with U.S. forces against ISIS.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Overnight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Partisan squabbles endanger congressional response to Trump's course on Syria MORE (R-S.C.), a staunch Trump ally and defense hawk, said the decision is a “disaster in the making” that “ensures [an] ISIS comeback” and “will be a stain on America’s honor for abandoning the Kurds.”