Syria Kurdish party appeals to world against Turkish threats


BEIRUT — Syria's dominant Kurdish party is appealing on the international community to help ensure the security of a Syrian Kurdish enclave threatened by Turkey.

Ankara has threatened to launch an imminent military operation on the northwestern Kurdish enclave of Afrin, where an estimated 1 million people live.

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, is the political arm of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which currently control nearly 25 percent of Syrian territory.

The PYD says in Wednesday's appeal that, should Turkey launch the operation, the world will bear responsibility for the lives of the people in the enclave.

Ankara views Syrian Kurdish forces — the PYD and the affiliated militia — as an extension of its own insurgents whom it labels as terrorists and who are fighting within Turkey's borders.

"Afrin will not be alone," the PYD said in a statement, vowing that all of northern and eastern Syria would stand with it.

Since the conflict began in 2011, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and its allies have set up autonomous cantons in the north of the country. Their sphere of influence expanded after they joined forces with the United States to fight Daesh — although Washington opposes their autonomy plans.

"We call on the international take responsibility towards more than a million people living in Afrin," the PYD said.

The party — the YPG's political affiliate — urged the United Nations to take immediate action to turn Kurdish-led parts of northern and eastern Syria into a safe zone.

"The Turkish regime...has become a threat to any solution to the Syrian crisis," it added.

The YPG and Turkish forces inside Syria have accused each other of shelling around the Afrin region in recent days.

The US-led coalition said this week that it is building a new 30,000-strong border force with its Syrian militia allies in the north, a plan that has infuriated NATO ally Ankara.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan pledged to crush the new force before it came into existence. — Agencies