Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

International Volunteers for the Kurdish Freedom Fighters Prepared to Fight Turkish led Forces in Syria.

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This was a major news story on BBC Radio Four this morning.

Volunteers ‘prepared’ to fight alongside Kurdish militia

Kurdish fighters have released a video showing an international group of volunteers who previously fought in Syria against so-called Islamic State.

In the video, a man with an American accent says: “We’ve been training for a significant amount of time. We are prepared.”

Britons prepare to fight Turkish-led forces in Syria

British men are among a group of international volunteers preparing to fight against Turkish-led forces in north-west Syria, the BBC understands.

They have joined the Kurdish militia, the YPG, in its offensive on the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin.

Among the volunteers is a 24-year-old British-Chinese fighter from Manchester, known as Huang Lei.

Lei, who originally travelled to Syria in 2015 to battle against IS, told the BBC it was his “duty” to fight.

The YPG has released a video showing an international group of volunteers who previously fought in Syria against so-called Islamic State.

Lei has told the BBC that there are two other Britons with him among the group, although they have chosen to remain anonymous.

In the video, an American says: “We’re all ready to go and fight in Afrin, against the invading force of Turkey.

“We’ve been training for a significant amount of time. We are prepared, and we have been supplied by the YPG to fight against the Turkish terrorists.”

We were fighting against ISIS in Syria and suddenly we heard that Turkey is attacking Afrin and bombing the city,” he says.

“We want to go there to help people defend the city and protect the people.”

This marks a significant shift in the involvement of international fighters in the Syrian war.

With the IS threat diminished, for some volunteers their mission has changed.

Lei says there is now a group of around 20 international volunteers who will go to defend the city, including Britons from Manchester, London and Leeds, and others from France, Germany, Spain and the US.

He says: “For me personally, the kindness and comradeship the Kurdish people have shown is my motivation to stand against Turkey”.

The British Foreign Office has repeatedly warned people not to get involved in fighting abroad, so signs of changing motivations from western anti-IS fighters may prompt fresh concern.

Michael Stephens, a Middle East analyst from the Royal United Services Institute, said: “Previously their actions had aligned completely with the goals of coalition partners.

“Now these volunteers are taking on a sovereign country and a NATO ally and this brings up certain legal considerations.”

Lei accepts he may face consequences if he comes back to Britain.

“I really hope I can return, but I don’t want to come back and get arrested,” he says.

“I am here to fight against terrorists. I don’t want to come back home and become a terrorist.”

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) has issued this statement,

We oppose all outside intervention in Syria, from whatever side. We see this latest intervention as one which can only worsen the situation, while in particular targeting the Kurdish YPG. We note that the Syrian government had denied the Turkish government’s claim that “all parties being involved were informed and operation is being carried with respect to Syria’s territorial integrity”.

It is reported that a ground operation is expected to follow with the support of the Free Syrian Army. The Turkish government is trying to justify this as “protection of the border and security”. This is a false justification of Turkey’s war on the Kurdish population in the region. These attacks are not aimed at protecting security because Turkey’s border security is not endangered. Afrin has been the calmest region in the whole Syrian civil war.

This war will have devastating consequences for the peoples of Turkey, Syria and of the region. The responsibility for this will lie with Turkey’s ruling AKP government, its leader Erdogan, and those imperialist powers who consent to these attacks.

We are particularly concerned given that Turkey is an important NATO member and there is a danger that its involvement here will herald wider intervention from other NATO powers.

This is not in the interests of anyone who is suffering as a result of this seven year long war. All outside intervention must end now. Only the people of Syria can decide their future.

We call on the British government to use all efforts to put pressure on Turkey to end the attack. It is important that the trade union movement and the anti war and peace movement exert as much pressure as possible through protests, lobbying and campaigning.

Stop the War & SPOT (Solidarity with the People of Turkey)

While some of this statement is welcome, that is opposition to “targeting the Kurdish YPG”,  how can this “pressure” possibly deal with the attack? Does it also mean that the StWC also calls on the  internationalist volunteers to follow the Foreign Office’s advice and not get involved in the fighting?

These are heroes and heroines, prepared to stand up the genocidal killers and their own volunteers, the Einsatzgruppen of ISIS.

Now they face the murdering forces of the Turkish, ‘moderate’ Islamist,  Erdoğan.

We back this:

HANDS OFF AFRIN Kurdish Solidarity Campaign.

Urgent concerns have been raised over the imminent threat by Turkey of military attacks on the Kurdish Afrin canton in Northern Syria

Representatives from the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) have been invited and will be attending the Sochi peace talks to be hosted by Russia at the end of this month (January 29th-30th). This is the first time the DFNS will have a seat at Syrian peace talks of this level, despite the fact they have, for many years now, proven to be the most efficient force against terrorist groups such as ISIS in Syria who were defeated by the Syrian Democratic Forces in the terrorist groups self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa, just a few months ago. The only force in Syria to have received support from both the US-backed coalition and Russia, the SDF (the armed forces of the DFNS) is a major power in the new emerging Syria; however, it is now under serious threat from Turkey who vehemently opposes its participation in the peace talks and moreso its existence in general. Indeed, Turkey is seeking to extend its own influence over the Syrian border using its military power and Salafist “rebel” proxies (further detail of Turkey’s links to Salafist terrorist groups in Syria can be found in our submission to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee).

Ankara is angered by the announcement last week that the Kurdish-led SDF will create a new border force in the north of Syria with support from the US Coalition, as part of its ongoing strategy to maintain stability and shore up defence against Turkish invasion. In light of this new border force plan, the upcoming Sochi peace talks, and Turkey’s historical aggression towards the DFNS, it is very likely Turkey will commence a full military incursion into the SDF-held Afrin canton by the weekend hoping to gain significant leverage in future peace talks and negotiations. Shelling and artillery fire by Turkey and Turkish-backed group was reported late last night (17th January) in Afrin’s Sherawa and Shera districts. If successful, Turkish leader Erdogan will be able to claim a political and military victory and add legitimacy to his continuous threats against the SDF and the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria.

This aggressive move from Turkey has the potential to totally jeopardise all chances of peaceful resolution for the Syrian conflict. Further, it risks millions of lives in an area filled with internally displaced people (around 2.5 million) from the conflict zones of Syria that sought safety in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, a secular, multi-ethnic, multi-faith, democratic autonomous zone with a strong emphasis on women’s rights and defence against the scourge of ISIS.

French Communist Daily, L’Humanité, backs the Kurdish fight against the Turkish invasion.

Feleknas Uca, députée kurde : « Nous sommes la force principale pour défendre les valeurs démocratiques au Moyen-Orient »

Demonstration outside the Council of Europe.

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Written by Andrew Coates

January 24, 2018 at 12:45 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Andrew Coates

    January 25, 2018 at 12:49 pm


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