'The militia groups relying on US support in Syria will be sold out by Washington, which sees them as a token chip in a political bargain, President Bashar Assad said, while apparently referencing the Syrian-Turkish border.
“We say to those groups who are betting on the Americans, the Americans will not protect you,” Assad said during a televised speech aired Sunday. “The Americans will put you in their pockets so you can be tools in the barter, and they have started with [it].”
Relying on foreign support will only see those groups becoming the “slaves of Turkey,” he warned. “Nobody will protect you except your state,” Assad said. He added that Damascus treats “any intruder” as an enemy and is adamant “every inch of Syria will be liberated.”
While Assad did not specifically name those “betting on the Americans,” the message has apparently targeted the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – the US-backed, Kurdish-led militia, which is controlling the northeastern parts of the country. Syrian troops and the SDF have avoided engaging in a direct conflict over the years, yet relations between them appear to be quite strained.
The fate of the SDF remains uncertain as the US announced withdrawal of its troops, occupying parts of Syria, late last year. Washington has promised to somehow simultaneously “protect” the Kurdish-led militias, and address “concerns” of its allies at the same time – Turkey's concerns, primarily.
Ankara regards the backbone of the SDF – the People's Protection Units (YPG) as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey has already conducted a military operation against YPG in Syria's Afrin region last year, and repeatedly threatened to take actions against other “terrorists” entrenched in northern Syria. Turkish armed forces and affiliated militants are currently controlling territories in Syria’s north.'
Read more: US will sell you out, no one can protect you but Syria – Assad to groups ‘betting on America’
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