Interview with Mustafa Bali, Spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces
Mustafa Bali is the spokesperson and director of media relations for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF is the second biggest territory holder in Syria. As of now, the SDF still controls around 30% of Syria.
The SDF was formed in 2015 in the Syrian city of Al-Hasakeh as a conglomeration of anti-ISIS forces including Arabs and Assyrian/Syriac militias but led and dominated by the YPJ, the powerful Kurdish militia. Last month witnessed deadly clashes between ISIS and SDF forces in which around 68 SDF fighters were killed. But the SDF has launched a fresh offensive against ISIS fighters.
In an exclusive interview, Bali spoke on various issues concerning the SDF including Turkey’s constant attacks on its forces. The interview was conducted via WhatsApp.
What is the motive of Turkish attacks on Syrian Kurdish controlled areas?
The Turkish position is very strange in this regard as they had no problem when ISIS and Al Qaeda controlled the Syrian-Turkish border. But when the SDF and YPG defeated ISIS and Al Qaeda and took control of the border Turkey suddenly realized that they faced a national security threat along the border. The SDF is only trying to secure the Syrian-Turkish border and the SDF hasn’t even fired a single bullet against Turkey from the border.
How does the SDF plan to respond to these Turkish attacks?
The SDF is fighting to protect civilians which is our right and we are in constant communication with our Western allies regarding how to stop Turkish aggression. That’s all I can say as of now. But at this point in time our first priority is to fight ISIS and wipe them out from their last strongholds.
How will joint patrols with U.S. forces in Northeast Syria help the SDF?
The SDF and our allied international coalition partners have conducted joint patrols on the Syria-Turkey border and to some extent it has helped to deter Turkish attacks on Syrian territory. But temporary patrolling is not enough. There should be some sort of permanent arrangements for these joint patrols.
What else is required to completely destroy ISIS from Syria?
There should be continuous support from the international community to fight ISIS in Syria. We have to fight extremist ideology which promotes ISIS through the re-education of people.
Can the SDF enter into reconciliation talks with Assad’s government?
The SDF has no authority to enter into any political talks. That has to be done through our umbrella organization, the Syrian Democratic Council.
How do you see the role of SDF in Syria in the near future?
The SDF is committed to play a productive role for the sake of a better future of Syria. The SDF will be part of any solution which is agreed to among the Syrian Democratic Council and other political actors.
If you're interested in writing for International Policy Digest - please send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org