The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday urged its U.S. allies to assume their “moral obligations” to protect them from a cross-border Turkish offensive, now in its fourth day.
“Our allies had guaranteed us protection … but suddenly and without warning they abandoned us in an unjust decision to withdraw their troops from the Turkish border,” it said in a statement.
“We call on our allies to fulfil their duties and assume their moral obligations,” to protect us by “closing the air space to Turkish warplanes”.
The SDF were the main ground partner in the protracted US-led campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria, losing 11,000 fighters before finally overrunning its self-proclaimed “caliphate” in March.
The Turkish offensive began after U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday ordered U.S. troops to pull back from the border.
He stands accused of giving Turkey’s operation a green light.
But Trump has since toughened his policy towards Ankara and on Friday threatened crippling sanctions if the operation goes too far.
The SDF on Saturday down-played the impact sanctions would have on the ground, saying they would not prevent Turkey from pressing ahead with its operation.
Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish-held towns and intense artillery exchanges have caused mounting casualties on both sides of the border since Wednesday.
On the Syrian side, 28 civilians and 74 SDF fighters have been killed by Turkish bombardment, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
On the Turkish side, 17 civilians have been killed by cross-border artillery attacks, according to Turkish reports.
The United Nations says 100,000 people in northeast Syria have been displaced by the violence.