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America’s Forgotten Allies in Syria

There is no truth to Turkey's claims that the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces pose a security threat to Turkish interests. But that hasn't stopped the international community from giving tacit support to Turkey's "Operation Olive Branch" in northern Syria, the real goal of which is to drive Kurds from the region.

AFRIN, SYRIA – On January 20, Turkey began targeting northern Syria with airstrikes and heavy shelling in a campaign that it claims is designed to neutralize a security threat on its southern border. The area under attack, and Afrin, the city from which I fight, is controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

As a commander in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes the YPG, let me be unequivocal: there is no truth to Turkey’s claims that we are waging war across the border. In fact, the opposite is true; with “Operation Olive Branch,” Turkey is attacking us. And yet, for reasons I cannot comprehend, it is doing so with tacit approval from the international community.

Our forces do not sponsor attacks against the Turkish state. (The YPG has only returned fire against Turkish positions that have shelled us.) Our only war is with jihadists from the Islamic State (ISIS), a fight the United States has supported us in waging. But now, with the fight against ISIS largely over, our international backers have grown quieter – just as Turkey’s rockets have gotten louder.

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