Syria calls on Kurds to join its army against Turkish aggression

The Syrian government in Damascus has called on the U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to join the country’s armed forces against what it called the Turkish aggression threatening the Syrian territories.

The Syrian army has been taking control in territories formerly controlled by the SDF in northern Syria since last week, after Turkey and Russia agreed on a deal that ended Turkey’s military operation against the Kurdish-led forces. 

The Syrian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that the Syrian Armed Forces was ready to receive members and units of Kurdish-led militia in northern Syria and offered to settle the status of those that had not completed their compulsory military service. 

“We in Syria are facing a common enemy, and we must sacrifice  as the people of unified Syria from the Arabs and Kurds to restore every inch of the beloved Syrian territories,” it said in a written statement shared by state-news agency SANA.

The country’s Interior Ministry said it was ready to provide civil services for all locals in northeast Syria. It also said it was ready to accept anyone that wanted to join the internal security forces, while the Education Ministry said it would extend its services to northeastern areas which it said had been deprived of education due to the war.

Following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters that Putin had assured him that Moscow would prevent the SDF members joining the Syrian army.

Turkey sees the SDF as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the deal between Ankara and Moscow requires withdrawal of Kurdish militia 30 km south from a 444 km stretch of the border between Turkey and Syria. 

But Turkey has also supported the opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad since war broke out in 2011, and Turkish-backed rebel groups are still in conflict with the Syrian army.

The Kurdish commander of the SDF, Mazloum Kobani, replied to the Syrian Defence Ministry’s call on Wednesday.

Kobani said on Twitter that the call was made at individual level not at institutional level and therefore was not compatible with their proposals. 

“The ministry should have offered a solution in the light of what we had proposed; and that was making the Syrian Democratic Forces a part of Syria’s defence system,” Artı Gerçek news site quoted Kobani as saying.