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Syrian Kurds Vow to Fight 'to Death' in Event of New Turkish Op in Syria - SDF

© AP Photo / Syrian Democratic Forces Fighters from the SDF. (File)
Fighters from the SDF. (File) - Sputnik International
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DAMASCUS (Sputnik) - The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its component, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), have promised to fight "to the death" in the event of a new Turkish operation in northeastern Syria, SDF spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed told Sputnik on Friday.

"We will defend the north and the east of Syria to the death," Ahmed said commenting on the SDF response on a possible operation.

The spokeswoman added that the SDF would not like to see a situation similar to what happened earlier this year in Afrin, where Ankara conducted a military operation.

Later in the day, Syria's main Kurdish parties and other allied groups issued a joint statement on the issue, calling Turkish plans a "declaration of war" and calling on world powers to prevent an assault on the region.

"All the forces in the north and east Syria…are asked to agree on strategies to confront this aggression," the statement read.

The statements followed Thursday's media reports, saying that the Turkish military was reinforcing troops stationed in the province of Kilis on the Syrian border with armoured vehicles. These reports emerged after a statement made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday that Ankara would launch a new military operation in Syria within days to free the east of the Euphrates from the US-backed Kurdish militia.

A fighter of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is seen in the eastern Deir al Zor, Syria September 12, 2017 - Sputnik International
US Supplies More 'Missiles, Howitzers, Machine Guns' to SDF – Spokesman

READ MORE: Turkey's Erdogan ‘Really Believes' in anti-Kurdish Offensive, Regardless of Risk

Turkey's operation in Afrin prompted tensions in the country's relations with the United States. The both sides have had tense relations in recent years, in part due to Ankara's concerns over US support for the YPG, which is viewed by the Turkish authorities as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization in Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

READ MORE: Erdogan: Turkey to Start Military Operation East of Euphrates in Couple Days

Turkey has been claiming that the YPG's presence near its border threatened its national security. On January 20, Turkey and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) opposition forces launched Operation Olive Branch in the northern Syrian district of Afrin aimed at "clearing" the YPG and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) from Turkey's Syrian border. In March, Ankara announced that Afrin was under the complete control of Turkish forces.

Ankara is also currently engaged in an operation to eliminate Kurdish strongholds in northern Iraq.

READ MORE: Pentagon Sets Up Observation Posts in Syria, to Coordinate Efforts With Turkey

Kurdish Militia Killed 5 Turkish Soldiers During Operation in Syria’s Afrin

As the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) stated later in the day, they killed five Turkish servicemen during their operation in Syria’s Afrin.

"On December 13th, our unit carried out a successful operation, targeting the positions of the invader Turkish army in Kimar village of Afrin’s Sherawa district. As a result, the enemy outpost was destroyed and five Turkish soldiers were killed," the statement reads.

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