Backed Syrian fighters halt anti-IS offensive after Turkey attacks Kurdish forces

03 November, 2018, 04:53 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • US-backed Syrian fighters halt anti-IS offensive after Turkey attacks Kurdish forces

Turkey's Defence Minister recently announced that the United States and Turkey were set to begin joint patrols in the northern Syrian city of Manbij this week as part of a so-called "roadmap" agreement for the city, now held by the SDF-affiliated Manbij Military Council.

The U.S. -led coalition, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), said in a statement that the combined patrols allow U.S. -led coalition and Turkish military to complement the local security structure for security and stability in Manbij.

Over the past two years, Turkish forces have already swept into Syria to push YPG fighters out of territory west of the Euphrates in two separate military campaigns.

The SDF now controls more than a quarter of Syrian territory after its Kurdish dominated forces beat back IS jihadists with United States support over the past three years.

U.S. Central Command said in a news release that a ground force commander agreed on by both countries will lead the joint patrols.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan and US President Donald Trump discussed Manbij and the wider situation in Syria in a phone call on Thursday, Erdogan's office stated.

"After Manbij, our next venue will be east of the Euphrates", Akar pointed out.

The Turkish government has always been seeking the YPG withdrawal from Manbij over security concerns, as it regards the YPG as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), blacklisted by Ankara as a terrorist organization.

Those Kurdish militia fighters, known as the People's Protection Units (YPG), are bolstered by Washington as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) countering IS. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces "temporarily" suspended offensive actions against ISIS in response to cross-border attacks by Turkey, Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the US -led coalition fighting the jihadi group, said on Twitter on Thursday.

Following an exchange of cross-border fire, Turkish police seized a vehicle carrying more than 545 pounds of explosives in the southeastern province of Mardin, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The US has worked closely with the YPG in the fight against ISIS in Syria, straining relations between Washington and Ankara. The campaign against ISIS "is not over and that fight remains hard", he said. The Turkish defense ministry later said the Kurdish militia fired on Turkish targets and that Turkish troops retaliated, killing 10 fighters. Joint patrols are considered a way to tamp down potential violence between the various groups in the region.

As a result of the road map, the Manbij Military Council announced in July that all Kurdish militia who were associated with YPG had left. Turkey, however, still wants Kurdish forces in Manbij to withdraw from the town.



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