Backed militia resumes targeting IS-held pocket in eastern Syria

Hugh Fox
November 3, 2018

This was stated by the Minister of defence of Turkey Hulusi ACAR.

"Turkish attacks in the north and ISIS attacks in the south against our troops had forced us to stop our current operation temporarily against ISIS in the last pocket of it", the SDF said in a statement.

A convoy of about 30 troops patrolled northwest of Manbij along the demarcation line dividing Turkish-controlled territory from the area controlled by the USA -backed Manbij Military Council, defense officials told VOA.

Sharfan Darwish, spokesman of the Manbij Military Council, told The Associated Press earlier that the patrols had started and were taking place on the front lines between his group and those of Turkey-backed rebels in the operation called Euphrates Shield.

Turkey sees Kurdish elements of the SDF as linked to the separatist group the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which the U.S. identifies as a terrorist group.

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The Manbij patrols are part of a "road map" that Ankara and Washington agreed on in June to defuse tensions amid demands for the withdrawal of the US -backed People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists.

The US support of the YPG has strained relations with Turkey.

Turkey has threatened military action against Manbij and this week shelled villages near Kobane, east of the Euphrates River and Manbij, causing the YPG and the umbrella forces of the SDF to cease operations against ISIS in Deir ez-Zor province.

There are U.S. forces in the Manbij - which lies just 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the Turkish border - and Washington has been closely working with the YPG in the fight against ISIS.

Turkey's Defence Minister recently announced that the U.S. 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. Ankara regards the United States-backed YPG as a terrorist organization due to its ties with the illegal PKK.

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Despite the tension that would grow with the United States, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that his country had finalized plans for a "comprehensive and effective" operation that would target the US -backed Kurdish groups in the east of the Euphrates River. "We have completed our preparations, plans, programmes regarding this issue", said Erdogan, who has made similar threats in the past.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United Sates and the European Union, has its headquarters in the Kandil Mountains.

"We will destroy the terror structure east of the Euphrates River".

For now, Russian Federation seems to support Turkey's military moves on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

"Offensive operations have been halted, defensive operations continue".

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