US Cannot Back Syrian Forces Who Align With Assad

The United States will have to sever its military assistance to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) battling Daesh if the fighters partner with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or Russia, a senior US general said on Sunday, Reuters reports.

The remarks by Army Lieutenant General Paul LaCamera, who is the commander of the US-led coalition battling Daesh in Iraq and Syria, underscore the tough decisions facing the SDF as the United States prepares to withdraw its troops from Syria.

Syrian Kurdish leaders have sought talks with Assad’s state, hoping to safeguard their autonomous region after the withdrawal of US troops currently backing them.

They fear an attack by neighbouring Turkey, which has threatened to crush the Kurdish YPG militia. Ankara sees the Syrian Kurdish fighters as indistinguishable from the Kurdish PKK movement that has waged an insurgency inside Turkey.

But LaCamera warned that US law prohibits cooperation with Russia as well as Assad’s military.

“We will continue to train and arm them as long as they remain our partners,” LaCamera said, praising their hard-won victories against Daesh militants.

When asked if that support would continue if they aligned themselves with Assad, LaCamera said: “No.”

“Once that relationship is severed, because they go back to the regime, which we don’t have a relationship with, (or) the Russians … when that happens then we will no longer be partners with them,” LaCamera told a small group of reporters.