MANBIJ (ANF) – SDF Spokesman Talal Silo stated that International Coalition is closely watching Turkey and its jihadist allies expelling Kurds in northern Aleppo. Silo said that the SDF was preparing for Raqqa and Deir az-Zor operations but demanded advanced weaponry and military equipment. Silo pointed out that they also had clear political demands, but the developments in al-Bab may change their priorities because they cannot be silent in the face of al-Bab Military Council’s militaristic and logistic needs.
Below is the ANF interview with SDF Spokesman Talal Silo who answered ANF’s questions on the Turkish army attacks, the structure of jihadist groups, the US-backed SDF’s position, preparation and priorities, the stance of the International Coalition and the possible reflections of Mosul operation.
How do you evaluate Turkey’s occupation of your region, including your village?
Turkey and affiliate gangs occupied northern Aleppo. ISIS, Turkey and affiliate gangs are performing a stage play there. ISIS hands the territory over to Turkey. The villages Turkey and affiliate gangs occupy in North Aleppo are Kurdish, Turkmen and Arab villages. They are sort of exchanging these, but the Turkish army puts up the pretense of a fight as it shells and bombards villages after ISIS gangs leave them. They evacuate the civilians, which is a core element of their game.
Turkey wants to change the demographics of North Aleppo. And they do this as they claim to rid the region of ISIS. They mostly evacuate Kurds. ISIS had been on their border for the past two years. They lived as neighbors over the 98 km border for two years. There was not a single confrontation between them during this period. After two years, they now pretend to fight against ISIS. This is clearly a game.
How did ISIS occupy this region? What was Turkey doing back then?
The current so-called FSA handed the region over to ISIS back then. They withdrew from Azaz and the villages in North Syria. I was responsible for the Seljuk Brigade back then. Turkey was going to send us two trucks of guns and ammunition. We fought against ISIS in Rai, which is my village, for 6 days. We resisted for 6 days, and only one of the two trucks passed through Rai. The other one went through Jarablus. Mahmud Kemo, also known as Abu Kemal, was responsible for Mehmet Fatih Brigade and received the other truck. This person offered no help to Rai and we were left without guns and ammunition. Then, ISIS increased its attacks and took over Rai. ISIS occupied the entire region og North Aleppo this way. Abu Kemal was never brought to account. We had meetings under the supervision of the Turkish Intelligence Agency. During a meeting, I demanded the prosecution of those responsible for ISIS’ occupation of North Aleppo; particularly Rai. However, participants and Turkish Intelligence officers did not say a single word. And nobody got prosecuted. Turkish Intelligence Agency continued to send guns to Mahmud Kemo, who delivered and still delivers guns to ISIS.
Do you know the people Turkey presents as ‘Turkmen representatives’?
Turkey presents these people as the representatives of Turkmens. These people did nothing while they were in Syria or after they crossed into Turkey. They all reside in Turkey now anyway. They are Turkey’s puppets and show hostility towards all peoples. But, they want to take advantage of Turkmens.
Are there no Turkmens among those participating in the Euphrates Shield operation ?
There are no more than 50 Turkmens that participate in the attacks of the so-called ‘Euphrates Shield’ that actually aims to occupy the region. Those people work closely with the Turkish Intelligence, and the rest are gang groups.
Those that work with the Turkish Intelligence do it for their own interests and do not represent Turkmens. Unlike Turkey suggests, Turkmen people do not participate in this occupation.
Turkey and affiliate gangs expand their occupation and say that their target is al-Bab. Is there any chance that you may be up against them in al-Bab?
The Turkish stated entered the region under the pretense of fighting against ISIS. However, this performance of theirs is aimed at preventing the unification of Efrîn and Kobanê. Russia, the US, Iran and the Ba’athist regime also approved the fight against ISIS.
As you may recall, Turkey attacked the Jarablus Military Council after entering Jarablus. After clashes of a few days, the US intermediated and secured a ceasefire. US officials have said until today that they would not allow clashes between us and Turkey. However, we may be up against them in al-Bab.
After the liberation of Manbij, you have been in a long preparation period. What is your next goal?
We have an approach, which we showed clearly in Manbij. We liberated Manbij and handed it over to the people of Manbij and the Military Council. The US and the International Coalition reacted positively to our approach.
Our target is wherever ISIS occupies. Currently, our targets are Dêra Zor and Raqqa. However, al-Bab Military Council is demanding our help. We will meet their demands for militaristic and logistic help. Raqqa Operation requires great power and opportunities. It requires a lot of preparation.
We receive some aid, but it is limited and done covertly. We demanded that International Coalition forces and the US give militaristic and political support overtly and officially. We demanded advanced weaponry, missiles, armored vehicles, panzers etc. They have been promised, but not delivered.
What have you put forward politically?
In political aspect we have demanded the inclusion of the Syrian Democratic Council in the talks ongoing between the Syrian regime and opposition. We are the true opposition in the battlefield. We are not from those formed in hotels, or those affiliated to Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. For this reason, we deserve more than anyone to be addressed in both military and political regard. We are a patriotic force loyal to our people. We are controlling an area of 20 square kilometers at the moment. We are protecting and defending an area larger than the Lebanon state. Thousands of new combatants have joined our forces from the area we have liberated. Our forces involve the children of all folks and faith groups.
Most recently, Colonel Hossam Alawak and his comrades have joined the SDF. Will there be further participation in your ranks?
Colonel Hossam Alawak made an official application stating that they wanted to leave FSA and join our forces. We appreciated and welcomed it. Alawak and a group from his fellow combatants declared their leave from FSA and participation in our ranks. Their leave from FSA shows the current situation in the FSA because it has become a toy in the hands of other forces now, and especially a representative of Turkey on our lands. With these new group joining our forces, we will continue our struggle for the freedom and construction of Syria together. Many other commanders with much military experience have joined us alongside Hossam Alawak. They will enable us to gain more strength and many other commanders, professional and revolutionary groups will join us.
How will the Mosul operation affect you?
We have tightened the security along our borders in consideration of the probability that ISIS members could flee Mosul and head towards this region. We have reviewed our positions on the borders. Still, ISIS has another escape route, which is the Bokemal borough on Dêra Zor border. They will try to head from that route.
How will the Syrian issue be resolved? What role do you have or do you want to undertake in this resolution?
There is no way other than the United Nations Security Council coming up with a solution through dialogue between the regime and us, the opposition.
The war ongoing on Syrian land is a reflection of the conflict between international powers. This has no benefit for Syria and the peoples of Syria. We believe the Syrian issue should be resolved among the Syrian parties. The prominent forces in the field are the SDF and the regime.
We fight for a democratic and federal Syria. There exist neither conditions nor possibilities for a return to the system before the revolution process. Besides, nobody would accept that. More than two million people have been killed or injured, millions of others have been displaced and the infrastructure of the country has suffered a huge destruction. There can be no return after all these. Nobody will forget their pains and wounds. In short, federal system is the most appropriate model for a resolution after all these have been experienced. Federal system means not division but on the contrary unity of Syria.