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Our Syrian Kurd allies are under fire

Turkey's military operation into Syria has begun. Credit: AP

It’s complex, but the new battlefront in Syria is a classic example of the cliché - “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

For us the Syrian Kurds have been the freedom fighters who eradicated the monstrous Caliphate, the Islamic State territorial entity rubbed out in southern Syria earlier this year.

The fight against IS lasted five years and cost the Syrian Kurds the lives of more than 10,000 men and women fighters.

They were the foot soldiers guided and helped by SAS advisors on the ground and RAF warplanes in the air.

The Turks see the Syrian Kurds as terrorists aligned to the PKK, the Kurdish separatist group that Ankara has been fighting inside Turkey for decades.

Syrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al Ayn, northeast Syria. Credit: AP

For President Erdogan the gains made by the Syrian Kurds as they rolled back the Islamic State have been intolerable and so he is now attacking our allies.

Watching the first pictures of Turkish artillImplicit in Erdogan’s pledge to settle 2million Syrian refugees unwelcome in Turkey inside a buffer zone in northern Syria is the threat to send them across the Aegean instead, if he doesn’t get his way.ery and jets attacking our allies today made me sick to the stomach.

But I expect the European response to the Turkish offensive to be lackluster, and for this reason.

Implicit in Erdogan’s pledge to settle two million Syrian refugees unwelcome in Turkey inside a buffer zone in northern Syria is the threat to send them across the Aegean instead, if he doesn’t get his way.

Smoke billows from a target inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces. Credit: AP

The influx of ore than one million Syrians in 2015 caused convulsions inside several European countries (Brexit vote?) and no European leader wants to see a repeat performance.

So, how far is Erdogan prepared to go? If he pushes too hard and too deep the international community will berate him.

But what might concern him more is retaliation by the PKK inside Turkey itself.

By the way, this Turkish offensive was made possible by the withdrawal of just a few dozen American soldiers who were positioned close to the border on the Syrian side. They weren’t officially peacekeepers, but their presence was keeping the peace there.

Donald Trump might not be ashamed but plenty in the US Congress are.