US State Department urges calm in Northeastern Syria
The US State Department on Wednesday expressed concern over the conflicts in Northeastern Syria and urged all parties to return to calm after Hayat Tahrir ul Sham, an Al Qaeda offshoot and a designated terrorist organization by the US took control of the Efrin city in the region.
“We urge all parties to de-escalate and prioritize the safety and well-being of the Syrian people,” said Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson of the US State Department.
Asked if the US is in contact with Turkey over the situation Patel said “Turkey is an important partner in the region, an important NATO Ally, and so we are in touch with them on a number of issues.”
Turkish troops were deployed on Tuesday in the region in an attempt to act as a buffer between fighting factions.
Turkish tanks and armored vehicles took up positions near Kafr Jana, an area which HTS seized on Monday, and the Turkish officials resumed efforts to bring the warring factions back to the negotiating table, Reuters said.
Various reports said HTS took over Afrin with Turkey's approval. While Belgium-based researcher Hussein Omar said that the HTS's deployment followed an "agreement" with Ankara, Firas Kerem, Idlib correspondent of Asharq Al-Awsat, said that a recent Turkish-brokered agreement enables HTS to "establish an administrative entity" that will "extend its rule out of Idlib to the entire region in north and northwest Syria, including countrysides of Aleppo."
Afrin was occupied by the Turkish military and its proxies in 2018 in a large scale Turkish incursion into Northeast Syria. Ankara claims that it was an anti-terror operation.
HTS, a jihadist group that is the dominant power in Syria's Idlib Governorate, was the main affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria until 2018 and is designated a terrorist organization by the United States.