Syrian government forces will deploy along the Turkish border to help repel the Turkish military incursion against Syrian Kurds, Kurdish officials announced Sunday.
The extraordinary deal between the Kurds, Syria, and Russia — Syria’s main ally — comes four days after Turkish forces moved against the Kurds in northern Syria after nearly all U.S. forces pulled out.
Turkey regards the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces as terrorists aligned with separatists inside Turkey.
Observers say in just the last four days, as many as 60 civilians have been killed with thousands of others fleeing.
“In order to prevent and block this assault, agreement has been reached with the Syrian government whose duty is to protect the borders and Syrian sovereignty, for the Syrian army to enter and deploy along the length of the Syrian-Turkish border,” a Kurdish statement said.
Kurds say Syrian forces will start spreading out along the border Sunday and should be totally deployed within two days.
The Kurdish statement came shortly after the official Syrian news agency reported that the army was sending in troops to “confront Turkish aggression.”
Syrian Kurds say they feel totally forsaken by the United States after fighting side-by-side with U.S. forces against Islamic State extremists in Syria. They also believe much of the Arab world and the U.N. Security Council are ignoring them.
“We had to find a solution…now you see what has happened to us and they don’t want to support us,” the defense minister of the Kurdish city of Kobani, Ismat Sheikh Hassan, said Sunday. “Again, we should not trust anybody. We should rely on ourselves. Every Kurd should carry a gun and prepare himself.”
Hassan called on young Kurds to stay in their homes while the elderly and children can leave if they wish to go.
Earlier Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump said the U.S. is withdrawing all remaining troops from northern Syria.
The president said it is “very smart…for a change” not to be involved in fighting in Syria.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper says there will be a “deliberate withdrawal” of the last 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria, he said on Fox television Sunday. “We are doing everything we can to get Turkey to stop this egregious behavior.”
“We pushed back on Turkey to not do this operation,” Esper said. But he said Turkey was “fully committed to do this no matter what we did.”
“This is part of the terrible situation that Turkey has put us in,” Esper said, adding that the U.S. “didn’t sign up to fight Turkey, a long-time ally, on behalf of the Kurds.”
Trump said he was working with congressional leaders, including opposition Democrats, to impose “powerful” economic sanctions against Turkey for its cross-border attacks.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a joint news conference that Turkey is risking an “unbearable humanitarian situation.”
Even Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci spoke out against the operation Turkey calls “Peace Spring.”
“It is blood that is spilling, not water,” he wrote on Facebook.
Trump is defending his decision to pull out of Syria, saying those who want American forces to stay support “endless wars.”
“Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight,” Trump tweeted. “They have no idea what a bad decision they have made. Why are they not asking for a Declaration of War?”
Along with the civilian casualties, Kurdish prison guards are needed to confront the Turks, leaving captured IS fighters unguarded.
Syrian Kurdish officials say hundreds have already escaped, along with their families who were housed in a displacement camp.