Assad says US won’t protect Syrian Kurds

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad warned Syrian Kurds on Sunday that the US will not protect them against a Turkish military offensive.

During a speech in Damascus, Assad said: “To those groups who are betting on the Americans, we say the Americans will not protect you … the Americans do not hold you in their heart … they will put you in their pocket so you can be a bargaining chip.”

Assad was referring to the US-allied Kurdish groups in the north of Syria who fear a Turkish assault once American troops withdraw from north-eastern Syria. Turkey considers the Syria-based Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, a terrorist group linked to the PKK. The US has partnered with local Kurdish militias in the fight against ISIS, but the prospect of a US withdrawal has forced the Kurds to begin talks about their future with the Syrian regime.

President Assad vowed to ‘liberate every inch of Syria’ from foreign soldiers and called on refugees around the world to return to Syria. He said: “Syria is in need of all its sons and we call on refugees to return to take part in the process of reconstruction.”

New research by the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI) found that more than 300 chemical weapons attacks have occurred during the Syrian civil war and President Bashar al-Assad and his regime forces are responsible for the vast majority of them. The Berlin-based NGO wrote in its report that its researchers have “credibly substantiated,” confirmed, or “comprehensively confirmed” at least 336 chemical weapons attacks.

Ciya Furat, the spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said on Saturday that the fight against ISIS will be over “very soon,” but added that more than 1,000 civilians are being prevented from leaving a tiny area still held by the terrorist group in the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria.

The SDF is also holding many captured foreign fighters. US President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday: “The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The caliphate is ready to fall.”