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Kurds eye one-third of Syria with US support: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Members of the so-called Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) gather near the coffins of fellow fighters killed during Turkish airstrikes in Derik, Syria, April 29, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

A Kurdish official has revealed plans to enlarge the territory held by Kurds in northern Syria with US support, under which the Daesh stronghold of Raqqah would be annexed to the self-proclaimed Rojava region.

The scheme includes linking the self-proclaimed territory to the Mediterranean Sea, the person in charge of the project Hediya Yousef told British daily The Observer in an interview on Saturday.

“Arriving at the Mediterranean Sea is in our project for northern Syria, it’s a legal right for us to reach the Mediterranean,” Yousef said.

The so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a 50,000-strong collection of Kurds, is preparing to occupy Raqqah before pushing deeper along the Euphrates valley and seizing the city of Dayr al–Zawr, the report said. 

An official even revealed SDF plans to eventually push west to occupy Idlib which is currently controlled by a coalition of Takfiri groups, including the former al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, recently renamed as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

Yousef confirmed that Kurdish forces would ask the US for support in setting up a route to the sea in exchange for their cooperation in retaking Raqqah, among others.

The self-proclaimed Rojava region, part of the northern Syrian territory bordering Turkey, is landlocked and has no coastal borders.

Members of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) inspect the recently recaptured Tabqa Dam, commonly known as the Euphrates dam, in Syria on March 27, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The SDF’s control over Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr would extend the territory called Rojava from the current 16 percent of Syria’s soil to a third of the country.

Yousef pointed out that Raqqah residents would be given a referendum asking if they wanted the SDF to form a government.

The expansion plan is set to outrage Turkey, which is carrying out airstrikes in northern Iraq and in northeastern Syria to prevent Kurdish separatists from carving out an independent state from the territories they occupy.

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Turkey has been pressing the US to drop its military alliance with the People's Protection Units (YPG) which it views as part of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). 

Washington, however, considers the YPG as one of the most important allies in Syria.

Following recent Turkish airstrikes, hundreds of US forces moved through northern Syria to the Turkish border in a dramatic show of solidarity with Kurdish militants that has stoked tensions between Washington and Ankara.

On Wednesday, a senior aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested American troops could be targeted alongside their Kurdish allies.

Both Turkey and the US have moved armored vehicles into the Turkish-Syria border, leading to a fresh escalation in tensions.

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