A senior US official told reporters the following about the proxy force Turkey is relying on as part of its Syria invasion: "They could have used Turkish regular troops,…Instead they decided to use these thugs & bandits & pirates that should be wiped off the face of the earth"
— Ryan Browne (@rabrowne75) October 15, 2019
The Wall Street Journal:
At least 71 civilians have been killed in Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The group said six of them were executed by Turkish-backed fighters along the M4 highway running along the border. A senior Trump administration official on Tuesday attributed the executions to Turkish-supported Syrian opposition elements being used by Ankara as part of its military assault.
“The Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian National Army are conducting an extremely meticulous operation without inflicting even slightest harm to civilians,” the Turkish presidency’s communications department said on Tuesday.
Ankara could have employed traditional military units to conduct its operation, the official said, but “instead they decided to use these thugs and bandits and pirates that should be wiped off the face of the earth.” The unit affiliated with those killings is “a well-known jihadist element,” the official added.
Turkey has long relied on such Syrian proxy groups, as it did in 2016 and 2018 when Ankara launched its two previous military offensives in Syria. For years, U.S. officials had rejected demands that American forces work with Turkey’s Syrian proxies because of U.S. concerns about their links to extremist groups and questions about their professionalism.
Pentagon officials said they have “significant concerns” about the militias backed by Turkey. “The Turks have committed to us that they will have control over those forces, but it’s a continued concern, especially after you unleash a force like that,” the official said.
“In terms of counterterrorism, we have never been subjected to a double standard as the one we are now facing in Syria,” Mr. Erdogan said.
This comes a day after another “senior US official” told reporters Turkish-backed rebels are “crazy and not reliable” and the reason US troops had to be evacuated for their safety:
“Although ‘the Turks gave guarantees to us’ that US forces would not be harmed, Syrian militias allied with them ‘are running up and down roads, ambushing and attacking vehicles,’ The militias, known as the Free Syrian Army, ‘are crazy and not reliable.’” https://t.co/qIvvVx346D
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) October 14, 2019
Erdogan can legitimately complain of DC hypocrisy. For one thing the “thugs and bandits and pirates” he has unleashed on northern Syria are simply the same cuddly “moderate rebels” the US unleashed against the Syrian society, state and religious minorities sometime in 2012. An onslaught the US withdrew from only in the spring of 2017.
But even this withdrawal from actively backing the Islamist rebellion was accompanied by the intensification of the economic siege and the subsequent near-total starvation of government-held Syria of fuel. See: Sitting on Syria’s Oil, US Cuts Lifeline From Iran, Plunges Syria Into Fuel Crisis.
HeHeHeHeHe… These "thugs and bandits and pirates and scums" have been selected, trained, armed and financed by the #US and all the coalition for 8 years and most of you guys have been venerating them as "moderate rebels".
The Irony of history.https://t.co/ZXAgjmDqZu
— Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai) October 15, 2019
So are we going to continue ignoring the fact that an army of US armed, trained and supplied Syrian rebels is also dog-pilling the Kurds?
US-armed Syrian rebels, together with NATO partner Turkey, stomping US-armed SDF.
Wonder how NBC's going to blame that on Russia
— Murad Gazdiev (@MuradGazdiev) October 11, 2019