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Kurds, primary target of Turkey in Syria: Analyst

Turkish soldiers seat in a tank driving to Syria from the Turkish Syrian border city of Karkamis in the southern region of Gaziantep, on August 27, 2016. (AFP photo)

Press TV has conducted an interview with James Jatras, former US Senate foreign policy analyst, about Kurds staging a protest rally in the Syrian town of Kobani to warn Turkey against a potential military incursion into the town.

Here is a rough transcription of the interview:

Press TV: Given how the people of Kobani, the Kurdish-populated city in north Syria drove out Daesh terrorists last year, what fate do you think will be awaiting Turkish troops if they enter the city?

Jatras: First it depends on what the Turkish intentions are. The offensive the Turks have launched is directed against, they say, both Daesh and against the Kurds but it is clear the Kurds are the primary objective of the offensive. Now the medium objective as you mentioned was to capture the town of Jarabulus which the Turks are concerned that the Kurds not expand their zone to the west of the Euphrates River. That seems it has already been accomplished. Now the question is how deeply do the Turks want to get dug in to northern Syria and I think that is unclear. I think it would be a big mistake if they try to basically stamp out the so-called Rojava area that the Kurds have carved out but they may go too far.

Press TV: And indeed the Kurdish people of Kobani have made it quite clear that they are opposed to any Turkish action in their city.

Jatras: That is right and I am sure that they will fight ferociously if the Turks attempt to seize it but we do not yet know what their intentions are. The larger question of course is with whom are the Turks coordinating on this? Let’s remember that the Kurds have been among the strongest elements that the Americans have supported in this war and it seems that we are acquiescing to they’re being hit by our former ally, Turkish ally, who is a NATO member. It also seems that many people are speculating that this move of the Turks was coordinated with the Russians and the Iranians and even with the Syrian government which has issued what seems to be mainly a pro forma objection to their incursion.

Press TV: It seems that Turkey is not wanted in Syria, the government in Damascus says Turkey’s intervention is a breach of its national sovereignty and we had the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying yesterday in his press conference with John Kerry that there are certain countries that are undermining the government of President Bashar al-Assad by their unwanted military intervention in Syria. Is Turkey really helping in the fight against Daesh with its apparently unwanted intervention in Syria?

Jatras: I think its actions against Daesh are quite negligible actually. It is clear that the Kurds are their main problem inside Syria. As far as the attitude of the Syrian government goes, again they have objected to this but it seems to me that it is more pro forma. There had been some very sharp clashes recently between the Kurds and the Syrian army. The Syrian army does not mind the Kurds fighting against Daesh but they also do not want to see the territorial integrity of Syria diminished by what amounts to an independent Kurdish entity.

Press TV: So Turkey is actually following its own interests by taking its troops inside Syria and launching attacks?

Jatras: It is. Of course you would expect them to do that and we have to see how extensive they intend this operation to be. If they limit themselves to trying to blunt the extent of a Kurdish entity and do not get dug in further than that and are then willing to accede to Damascus ... to have control against the other terrorist groups operating against it, we could be seeing a decisive shift in this war, we just do not know yet at this point.

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