Elham Ahmed also spoke about the changing relationship with the coalition forces that helped defeat ISIS territorially – one that has shifted from fighting the terrorist group, to building a foundation and infrastructure in the region that would prevent extremism flourishing.
The Turkish-backed rebels in Syria have been accused of carrying out a litany of human rights abuses on Kurdish civilians and soldiers.
“We want for the UK Government to play an important role, a positive role inside Syria and to put pressure on Turkey to give up its negativity and interference with Syrian policy and Syrian territory,” Ms Ahmed, president of the executive committee of the Syrian Democratic Council, told The National during a visit to London.
“We and the UK armed forces fought together against ISIS in one front and we gave thousands of martyrs. We have thousands of injured fighters. Today Turkey is attacking us. We agreed a ceasefire, but Turkey is using drones on a daily basis.”
Ms Ahmed accused Turkey of wanting to occupy and destroy the Kurdish people and its territory, citing how her home city of Afrin in north-west Syria is currently controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.
She said her administration wanted and hoped the UK could play a positive role in Syria, and “support the Kurdish cause and to finish ISIS”.
Ms Ahmed said the US had promised they have no intention to leave north-east Syria and said their presence was important to maintaining stability, as the search for a political settlement to the Syrian civil war continues.
While the view on Turkey has not changed, the relationship with the Coalition forces has in some ways shifted since 2019.
“For example, before we used to fight on against ISIS. But now, our perspective and our work with the coalition is to build an infrastructure for Syria, in order for people to not be radicalised or not join ISIS.”
She said support would be welcomed to help build institutions in the region, giving solar, water, agriculture and electricity projects as examples. Conversations are under way with some companies, Ms Ahmed said, although she gave no further details.
Ms Ahmed’s administration has, with foreign support, plans to rebuild additional and more secure detention centres. The population continues to increase because of newborn babies.
“There is no indication that they want their people back,” she said.
The hope is that, by running deradicalisation programmes, the threat level will decrease and perhaps countries may even be prepared to take their citizens back.
“What can we do? They don’t accept their people, but we at least want to open centres and to rehabilite them. Possibly in the future, maybe they will accept [them back] but at least we achieved something.”