Elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) who are allied to the Turkish regime of Erdogan, have started their assault against positions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in north Syria. The FSA and Turkish forces will try to stop the advance of the Kurdish led SDF, who have been on the offensive against the reactionary Islamic State. However at the town of Jarabulus, the Turkish Army intervened as it does not want the SDF to control more Syrian border towns. Together with the FSA and Islamist rebels, the Turks hope to push the Kurds back behind the Euphrates River!
The Syrian civil war is now conflict with so many sides, it becomes very confusing. Although some units of the FSA are part of the SDF, the Syrian rebels who fight with the Turks against the Kurds are also FSA. Erdogan is building a anti-Kurdish alliance of Syrian rebels who will play the ground forces in his plan to defeat the SDF. The Turks are also supported by Islamist forces, the Sham Legion (4.000 fighters strong) and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki participate in the fight. With the support of 200 regular Turkish troops and over 50 tanks, the anti-Kurdish alliance, has been able to stop the lightly armed SDF’s advance (for now)!
Videos from the internet, show anti-Kurdish fighters with captured SDF weapons and YPG identity cards. For the fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the assault must have been a surprise as they only fought Islamic State for now. Many SDF commanders do not want to fight the FSA or the Turkish Army. However the Turks consider the People’s Protection Units of Rojava Kurdistan to be ”terrorists” and since the YPG makes up the majority of the SDF, the Turks want to stop their advance!
One thing is clear now, the Erdogan regime is using sectarian Syrian rebels to fight his war against the Kurds in northern Syria. Arabic FSA troops, the Sham Legion and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki are Sunni-Islamic and therefore allies of the Turkish; AK Party, who also promotes Sunni-Islamic conservatism. American imperialism has joined the side of Erdogan. To no ones surprise, the Americans demand that the SDF retreats back behind the Euphrates River. The Shahba region civilian council has condemned the Turkish invasion and their use of Syrian rebels to drive the SDF away!
The European Union however does not care about the wishes of the Shahba region civilian council. European imperialist leaders have rallied behind the demands of the Turks and say that the Kurdish led forces have no business behind the Euphrates River. That the EU stands with the Turkish regime also comes to no surprise. European nations have armed the Turkish state with weapons which they used to crush the freedom fighters of the PKK. Over 3.000 Kurdish homes were destroyed and many were forced to flee. Also the western world listed the Kurdistan Workers Party on their ”terrorist list” in 2002, after Ankara demanded this for years. Although the Syrian allies of the PKK are not yet on the EU and American terrorist list, Ankara is already boosting that the Kurdish; Democratic Union Party (PYD) is a ”criminal terrorist organisation”!
Meanwhile the Anti-Kurdish alliance led by Turkish interventionist forces, move towards the city of Manbij. This city of 94.000 was liberated by the Syrian Democratic Forces on 12 August, from the reactionary Islamists. However the liberation may be shored lived as the Anti-Kurdish forces move closer towards the city. The Manbij Military Council is worried that the reactionary terrorists could return, now under the banner of the Turkish Army. Because many Islamic State fighters who fled Manbij in early August, moved towards the Turkish border. It is very possible that they are now part of Islamist groups like the Sham Legion and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki!
The people of Manbij should be worried. Because members of Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki are deeply reactionary and have committed war crimes. Militants of the group are responsible for the beheading of a young boy who they believed to be a spy for either the Assad government or Islamic State. The child was captured and then beheaded on a truck as the militants shouted ”Allah Akbar”. They then paraded the child’s head around. Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki is a Islamist group that was armed by the USA until 2015, via the Turkey-based Military Operation Center. They are not moderates or secularists, their aim is to build a Islamic regime in Syria and differ not much from the Islamic State!
Revolutionary socialists openly reject the intervention of the Turkish Army in Syria. We also denounce their attempts to unify sectarian rebels into this Anti-Kurdish Alliance. If those FSA fighters in northern Syria also have a Islamic fundamentalist believe (as many have), then the Turks have three reactionary rebel groups fighting against the Kurds. It is a a complete scandal that western ”democratic” governments allow Turkey to get away with this. Not only has Ankara secretly supporting IS in the past, they now use Islamist forces against the only democratic minded army in the whole Syrian civil war!
What now? It is very possible that the Turks will use their puppets to attack the SDF and force them back across the Euphrates River. Should this succeed, it would be a major defeat for the Syrian Democratic Forces, who struggled so hard to liberate cities like Manbij from Islamic terrorism. It also exposes the imperialist role of the Turkish regime and the fact that IS militants, could be among the new fighters of the the Sham Legion and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki. Turkey has a big advantage over the Kurds as they have an air force and long range artillery. Also the USA is on their side and they have said that if the SDF refuses to pull back, then they would lose air support!
The SDF should not fall back and abandon the towns to these sectarian anti-Kurdish forces. It is the duty of any progressive fighter to defend the people against sectarianism, terrorism and foreign imperialism. Revolutionary socialists know that there is a possibility that the SDF cannot the city of Manbij as the enemy is supported by the Turkish Army. Still the progressive spirit of units like the People’s Protection Units (YPG) have led to the victory in Kobani. We call for massive workers unity against those who wish to impose sectarianism and ethnic nationalism on the people of northern Syria by force. The Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava is a product of people’s unity and the desire to live in a free society with gender equality, secular laws and democratic participation of people in both politics and economics. It must be defended!
One thing is also clear. The Americans and Russians do not support Rojava. They want a united Syria which is understandable, because the American support the rebel ”government” and the Russians support the Ba’ath ”government”. Although the Democratic Union Party (PYD) had called for Russian support, the only ones who are fully supported by Moscow, are those loyal to Bashar Al-Assad. The PYD in Rojava must realize that they stand alone in this fight. They have no international allies, mainly because they are not organized as a sectarian, ethnic nationalist-capitalist force. The Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan are bourgeois-capitalist and therefore get American supplies. But in Syria, the Kurds have allied themselves with Arabs, Turkemen and Assyrians to build a multi-ethnic state. They are guided by the leftist ideals of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which is why the capitalist world rejects them!
Unity of workers, peasants and the poor can defeat the imperialist forces. If the Syrian Democratic Forces remain committed to this ideal, they can defeat not only the Islamic State, but also the sectarian rebels and the Turkish Army. A full retreat back behind the Euphrates River would result in demoralization as many wish to connect with Kurdish forces in the north-west of Syria. Should Erdogan send more troops into Syria, the Kurds must be prepared to fight them. Defeating the Turks will be difficult, but with guerrilla tactics it can be done. Turkey’s army is unfortunately build on forced conscription. Meaning that many poor boys from working class families are send by Ankara, to fight the Syrian Democratic Forces!
European workers can support the SDF by calling on their governments to reject the Turkish intervention and NATO’s demands. Workers can pressure their leaders to demand support for Rojava and their struggle against Islamic State. This is why revolutionary socialists give critical support to the Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava and their Syrian Democratic Force. We know that Rojava is not (yet) a socialist society, but their revolutionary idealism and gender equality among SDF ranks, are proof that there is a revolution happening. They are a beacon of light in a conflict that has become so sectarian, reactionary and oppressive!