US Senator from Maryland Chris Van Hollen accused the American President Donald Trump of betraying the Syrian Kurds, the main US ally on the ground in Syria, who had been forced to withdraw from Afrin region due to the Turkish offensive.
“Why is Trump silent while our allies in the fight against ISIS, the Syrian Kurds, are brutally forced out of Afrin, by Turkish forces,” Van Hollen wrote on his Twitter page.
“Silence is complicity & sends the terrible message that the U.S. will not stand by our allies in the face of aggression,” he added.
The Turkish troops in co-operation with the Free Syrian Army factions managed to enter Afrin, the main city of the eponymous Kurdish-dominated region, on Sunday, March 18th, after almost two months since the beginning of the Olive Branch operation.
By capturing Afrin the Turkish forces cut the region into three isolated pockets ans opened the road to Idlib forces, where several Turkish observation points had been already established.
Turkish President Rejep Erdogan congratulated the nation on the success of the operation, saying that not a single civilian had been harmed during the clashes, a claim disputed by human rights activists who have reported dozens of civilian casualties.
In turn, Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) representative Othman Sheikh Issa accused Turkish forces of committing an “ethnic cleansing” in Afrin and vowed to continue resistance by employing guerrilla war tactic.
Late January, the Turkish army supported by Free Syrian Army factions has launched operation Olive Branch seeking to capture the Kurdish-dominated region of Afrin in Aleppo province. Despite stubborn resistance of the YPG units, the Turkish troops managed to capture the section of the Syrian-Turkish border near the region and established control over several villages.
The Turkish offensive had a negative impact on the relations between Turkey and the US, which is supporting the Syrian Kurds as its main partner in the fight against ISIS. Moreover, the perspective of Turkish troops entering Manbij directly threatens the US military bases located several kilometres west of the city.