Syria’s Kurds push US to stop Turkish assault on key enclave

In this Friday, Jan. 26 file photo, Kurdish demonstrators, protest against the operation by the Turkish army aimed at ousting the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia from the area in Afrin, Syria, in Rabiyeh, east of Beirut, Lebanon. Syria’s Kurdish militia is growing frustrated with its patron, the United States, and is pressing it to do more to stop Turkey’s assault on Afrin. Their complaints reflect the differing agendas. The Kurds want to ensure their self-rule, while the U.S. wants them to focus on governing the territory they wrested from IS militants. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s Kurdish militia is growing frustrated with its patron, the United States, and is pressing it to do more to stop Turkey’s assault on a key stronghold in Syria.

The issue reflects a deeper concern among the Kurds over their alliance with the Americans, which proved vital to defeating the Islamic State group in Syria.

The Kurds fear that ultimately they and their dream of self-rule will be the losers in the big powers’ play over influence in Syria.

Already the U.S. is in a tough spot, juggling between the interests of the Kurds, its only ally in war-torn Syria, and its relations with Turkey, a key NATO ally.

The Kurdish militia views defending the Kurdish enclave of Afrin as an existential fight to preserve their territory.

Afrin has major significance — it’s one of the first Kurdish areas to rise up against President Bashar Assad and back self-rule, a base for senior fighters who pioneered the alliance with the Americans and a key link in their efforts to form a contiguous entity along Turkey’s border.

The offensive, which began Jan. 20, has so far killed more than 60 civilians and dozens of fighters on both sides, and displaced thousands.