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The former spokesman of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who defected from the US-backed coalition to Turkey, has accused the Kurdish-led group of making evacuation deals with Daesh (ISIS) fighters.
— Riam Dalati (@Dalatrm) November 15, 2017
In the latest segment of an interview conducted with the Anadolu Agency, defector Talal Silo alleged that US-backed fighters had struck several deals with Daesh, allowing fighters and their families safe passage out of Raqqa, Manbij and Tabqa and that some had found their way to the Euphrates Shield zone.
“The SDF failed several times to capture Tabqa and its dam and they held negotiations with Daesh. According to that agreement, Daesh left the city and let the SDF remove all booby traps in the dam compound. In return more than 500 Daesh terrorists were evacuated to Raqqa city,” he told reporters.
Silo has also alleged that the SDF, which is dominated by Kurdish fighters, is a cover for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey has designated a terror organization, and the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
It is only a name. Nothing else. We take everything, including our salaries, from YPG. The US authorities wanted to give arms to Kurds. The announcement of SDF’s establishment was only a drama. The US gave the leadership to the Kurds and PKK.”
According to the ex-spokesman, the SDF has some 50,000 militants including both men and women, with 70 per cent of them belonging to the YPG and the YPJ, the female wing of the organization. Human rights organizations have documented Kurdish forces committing war crimes in Syrian territory, including the razing of non-Kurdish villages and forced conscription of minors.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has alleged on multiple occasions that the US has aided Daesh militants by supporting Kurdish groups.The US-led coalition has not formally responded to any of Silo’s latest comments, but the allegations come amid repeated calls on Washington by senior Turkish officials, insisting on the cessation of weapons deliveries to Kurds.
Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that US President Donald Trump had reassured Erdogan that he had ordered to cease supplies of the US armaments to Kurds. The US has also started to withdraw some of its troops from the ground.
However, the Trump administration has made clear its intention to keep some forces in Syria to oversee attempts at a peace process between opposition groups and the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, efforts which have stalled in Geneva again this week.
Last month American officials confirmed to the Washington Post, on a condition of anonymity, that the US plans to maintain an open-ended presence in Kurdish-dominated regions in order to stabilize communities under a local government. Such reports seconded the statements of US Defense Secretary James Mattis weeks before when he stated that the military will fight Daesh in Syria “as long as they want to fight.”
Top photo | Former spokesman of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Talal Silo, pictured center, delivers a prepared statement to the press. (Photo: Twitter)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said that there is a “reasonable basis” to believe that British soldiers committed war crimes during their campaign in Iraq. In its report on the “Preliminary Examination Activities 2017”, delivered in New York to an assembly of countries, the Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, declared that her office was going to push ahead in gathering evidence to see if a formal investigation is to be launched against the UK at The Hague.
The 74-page report, which lists the cases that are at a preliminary stage, said that the ICC had reopened the case against the UK following submission of further information on alleged crimes. The court had ended a previous preliminary investigation into similar allegations in 2006 because there were fewer than 20 allegations, despite concluding that it had seen evidence suggesting British troops did commit war crimes in Iraq, “namely wilful killing and inhuman treatment”.
The ICC cited “the large volume of allegations of criminality received” by the UK Ministry of Defence through the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT). Between 2010 and the end of June 2017 IHAT received a total of around 3,400 allegations of unlawful killings and ill-treatment, the ICC revealed.
Bensouda’s report examines UK domestic controversy surrounding inquiries into war crimes committed by British soldiers in Iraq before concluding that the “Office has independently examined all relevant circumstances” and decided that the information was reliable and could be corroborated, including reports on human rights abuse.
The report cites Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) who alleged that the “UK personnel committed systematically and on a large scale war crimes of torture and related ill-treatment against at least 1,071 Iraqi detainees”. PIL further stated that these violations were carried out under the
UK Government’s deliberate policy of abuse of Iraqi detainees in the period from March 2003 through December 2008 on the territory of Iraq.
In its report, the ICC “reaffirms its previous conclusion that there is a reasonable basis to believe that in the period from 20 March 2003 through 28 July 2009 members of the UK armed forces committed the following war crimes” in Iraq against persons in their custody, including: “wilful killing/murder torture and inhuman/cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape or other forms of sexual violence”.
It declared that it had conducted a comprehensive review of all information available and considered information on relevant national proceedings conducted by the UK authorities before reaching the conclusion that “that there is a reasonable basis to believe that members of the UK armed forces committed war crimes …against persons in their custody.”
Top photo | Iraqis pass by a British tank as they flee Basra, southern Iraq, as smoke looming over the city can be seen in the distance, March 29, 2003. (AP/Anja Niedringhaus)