The spokesperson for the Syrian YPG told Grasswire on April 26 that the US-led coalition must “give real guarantees” that its positions will not be hit by Turkish airstrikes.
YPG spokesperson Rêdûr Xelîl was responding to questions after Turkish warplanes struck the YPG’s General Command HQ in northeastern Syria and YBŞ positions on Mount Sinjar in Iraq on April 25. At least 20 YPJ and YPG members were killed in Syria and at least five Peshmerga were killed in Iraq.
“The International Coalition has a great responsibility to protect its partners who are fighting ISIS on the ground. We can’t be partners if Turkey bombs our headquarters from behind. Turkey’s bombing is to prevent us from fighting ISIS in Raqqa. In other words, it obstructs the work of Coalition. The Coalition cannot be silent.”
“The Coalition should put an end to Turkish violations and give real guarantees that similar actions will not be repeated by Turkey.”
YPG spokesperson Rêdûr Xelîl
Xelîl continued: “Turkish attacks will not frighten us. They will not reduce our determination to fight terrorism,” and accused Turkey of supporting terrorism.
Reiterating that they had a right to self-defence, Xelîl said that the YPG had tried to be a good neighbour to Turkey and had not fired “a single shot towards its border for six years.”
“The Turkish government has taken us as its real enemy and this will not be to its advantage or benefit,” Xelîl concluded.
On April 26, a coalition spokesperson confirmed to Grasswire that operations had ceased around Raqqa and Tabqa.
Earlier reports said the YPG had stopped its operations until the coalition “takes action” against Turkey over the strikes.
The coalition spokesperson reiterated that they are concerned about the strikes, which killed partner forces in Syria and Iraq.
This statement from the coalition was later seemingly contradicted by CJTF-OIR spokesman Col Dorrian in a public press briefing.
YPJ warns it may withdraw from coalition operations
Nasrin Abdullah, spokesperson for the all female YPJ, said that unless the coalition gives a concrete response to the Turkish airstrikes the group will withdraw from the operation. 12 YPJ members and 8 YPG members were killed in the strikes.
“This is unacceptable in international law. If the USA or coalition or the US spokesperson can only say, ‘We are concerned or we are unhappy’ then we will not accept this. If this is the reaction, we do not accept it. It means they accept what was done to us.”
“Until now we have been in a joint struggle with the coalition against ISIS terror. We are still involved in that struggle. [But] our people are expecting a response from us on why the coalition is not showing Turkey a concrete reaction.”
“If the coalition does not show a concrete reaction then we will withdraw our forces from Raqqa.
They need to convince our people. We are not anyone’s stick to beat their enemies with.”
Nasrin Abdullah, spokesperson for the YPJ
“If a practical and verbal reaction is not shown we will re-evaluate and decide what to do.”
12 YPJ fighters killed
Earlier on April 26, the General Command of the Syrian YPJ (Women’s Defense Units) issued a statement on the Turkish attack on Syria and Sinjar.
The statement said that the US-led coalition and Iraq’s KDP knew about the strike in advance, and that 12 of the 20 people killed the airstrikes in Syria were YPJ fighters.
Echoing Xelîl’s comments, the statement said: “The invading Turkish state’s goal with this attack is to prevent the Operation Wrath of Euphrates against ISIS and to save ISIS from annihilation.”
“This attack is based on the treacherous alliances of the KDP. The KDP alliance is known to have provided a foundation for these attacks.”
“This Turkish attack on our forces didn’t happen without the knowledge of the Coalition forces. The silence of the Coalition in the face of these attacks confirms and approves this. The women’s freedom struggle movement can not accept approval of this situation.”
Statement from YPJ General Command