ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A senior Kurdish official from northeast Syria said late Thursday that 412 fighters of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been killed since Turkey’s launch of Operation Peace Spring.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, president of the Syrian Democratic Council’s (SDC) Executive Committee Ilham Ahmed announced “confirmed statistics” on their now 22-day-old conflict.
“More than 400,000 people have been forcibly displaced. Some of them stay at schools, while others are homeless. 18,000 of the displaced are children. Five of the medical personnel who were helping the injured were have lost their lives,” said Ahmed.
“Four journalists have been killed. More than 20 schools have been destroyed and 180 schools are out of service. 18,000 students cannot go to school now. 5240 teachers cannot go to work. All the [international] humanitarian organizations have left the arena,” she said, putting the number of SDF “martyrs” at 412.
She added that Turkey and its Syrian proxies currently hold 73 SDF hostages captured during the conflict.
The SDC is the political wing of the multi-ethnic SDF, allied with the US in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) since it was founded in 2015.
Turkey regards the SDF a terrorist organization due to its alleged link to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas inside Turkey.
It launched Operation Peace Spring on October 9 against the SDF in northern Syria, aiming to drive out Kurdish forces and eventually resettle millions of Syrian refugees who have fled to Turkey since the breakout of Syrian crisis in 2011.
Turkey and its proxies took the towns of Sari Kani (Ras al-Ain) and Gire Spi (Tel Abyad) from the SDF following days of intense fighting.
The offensive was officially paused by Turkey – despite a number of skirmishes – for six days after deals were reached with the US and Russia.
About 1000 US troops were present in the SDF-held areas but pulled out of the area after US President Donald Trump ordered their withdrawal. Only a small number now remain in Syria.
Meanwhile, Ahmed reiterated on Thursday SDC concern for the US response to Turkish incursion.
“The US promised us multiple times that the area where they are present will not be targeted by anyone, but the US did not commit to its promises.”
Kurds have blamed the US for abandoning them after years of joint operations against ISIS. However, the joint mission between US and Kurdish forces to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proved some continued alliance between the two sides.