Syria Kurds halt joint ops with US-led coalition after Turkish raids -spokesman

QAMISHLI, Syria, Dec 2 (Reuters) – The Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed group that has helped defeat Islamic State jihadists in Syria, said on Friday it had halted all joint counterterrorism operations with the U.S. and other allies as a result from that. of a Turkish bomb on its area of ​​control.

Turkey has stepped up its shelling and air strikes on northern Syria in recent weeks, and is preparing a ground invasion against Syrian Kurdish fighters it calls terrorists but who make up the bulk of the US-backed SDF.

The SDF has long warned that fighting a new Turkish invasion would divert resources from defending a prison housing ISIS fighters or fighting ISIS sleeper cells that still conduct hit-and-run attacks in Syria.

Aram Hina told the Reuters news agency that “all coordination and joint operations for the fight against terrorism” with the US-led coalition fighting the remnants of the Islamic State in Syria, as well as “all joint special operations that we carry out regularly” have been stopped.

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The Turkish bombardment – using both long-range weapons and airstrikes – frustrated its NATO ally Washington.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told his Turkish counterpart on Wednesday that the United States is “strongly opposed to a new Turkish military operation in Syria”.

Austin also said the Turkish raids “directly threatened the safety of U.S. personnel working with local partners in Syria to defeat ISIS,” according to the Pentagon. Read more

The US-led coalition has supported the SDF with airstrikes, military equipment and advisers since 2017, first helping it retake territory from ISIS and then supporting clean-up operations against jihadist sleeper cells.

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Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told reporters earlier that only joint patrols had been suspended and that operations against ISIS had not stopped.

The US-led coalition did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters on Friday about whether further operations had been frozen.

Sheikhmos Ahmed, head of the displacement department in northeastern Syria, told Reuters that Turkish raids at the end of November disrupted activity in and around al-Hol, a detention camp where women and children identified with ISIS fighters are held.

According to him, the humanitarian operations were suspended for several days and that some minors affiliated with ISIS tried to escape but were caught.

A Western source briefed on the matter confirmed that there was “some disturbing movement” in the section where foreign women and children associated with ISIS were held.

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SDF chief Mazloum Abdi earlier this week told Reuters he wanted a “stronger” message from Washington after seeing unprecedented Turkish deployments along the border. read more

“We are still nervous. We need stronger and more solid statements to stop Turkey,” he said. “Turkey announced its intention and now it feels the things. The beginning of an invasion will depend on how it analyzes the positions of other countries.”

Reporting by Orhan Kerman in Qamishli, Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman and Jonathan Spicer in Istanbul; Writing by Maya Gbeili Editing by Raisa Kesolovsky, Kim Coghill, William McLean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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