Turkish-backed army ready to attack Syrian regions where U.S. based

The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army is ready to conduct operations in areas of Syria where U.S. forces and their Kurdish allies are based, said Ahmad Osman, commander of the FSA-affiliated Sultan Murat Brigade.

“Preparations are already underway; we have many well-trained fighters,” Osman said in an interview with Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

FSA soldiers could attack the Kurdish People’s Protection Forces (PYD) in Syria’s northeastern Tal Abyad, Raqqah and Al-Hasakah regions, and other areas east of the Euphrates, he said.

Turkey and the United States have repeatedly clashed over policy in Syria, with Turkey arguing that Kurdish fighters there are part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group recognised as terrorists by Washington and the European Union. The United States says the soldiers are essential to eradicating the threat in Syria posed by Islamic State (ISIS), also known as Deash.

“The only problem is the U.S. troop presence in the region,” Osman said. “I'm hoping the U.S. withdraws and the Turkish army -- backed by the FSA -- expels the PKK from areas east of the river, where it is pretending to be fighting Daesh.

 “In reality, there is no Daesh presence in Raqqah, Al-Hasakah and Tal Abyad; therefore, we can carry out operations there,” he said. “But the U.S. wants to remain in this area, meaning that U.S. support for the PKK is hindering operations east of the Euphrates.”

Osman hailed ongoing Turkish support for the region’s civilian population, Anadolu reported.

“Turkish NGOs remain very active in the area and have provided aid for numerous development projects,” he said. “The Iranians, by contrast, are operating in accordance with their own agenda and religious beliefs.

“The Turkish presence and the Iranian presence in Syria are completely different in nature.”