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Turkish strikes harm anti-ISIS operations, say US and Kurds

 


BEIRUT — US and Kurdish military officials said on Tuesday that Turkish airstrikes and a threat of ground invasion in northern Syria are impacting their joint operations against the extremist group Islamic State.

Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in northeast Syria, told reporters that joint operations against ISIS alongside the US-led international coalition had been temporarily halted. due to the recent Turkish airstrikes, and that the gains made in fighting the extremist group to date may be under threat.

Also on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters that the United States had reduced the number of partnership patrols it conducted alongside the SDF.

They have reduced the number of patrols they do, so that forces us to reduce patrols, he said.

However, he added, we have not redeployed any of our men. We remain very focused on countering the threat of IS.

On Saturday, the US military said two rockets targeted US-led coalition forces at bases in the northeastern Syrian town of Shaddadeh, causing no injuries or damage to base or coalition property.

Mazloum added that statements by Turkish officials as well as intelligence reports indicated that Ankara was preparing for a ground invasion and urged the United States and other allies to take a tougher stance against such a move.

Turkey has in recent days launched a series of airstrikes on suspected militant targets in northern Syria and Iraq, in retaliation for the deadly November 13 bombing in Istanbul that Ankara blames on Kurdish groups. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also threatened a ground incursion, without specifying when it would be launched.

While the United States and other international partners have expressed opposition to a ground offensive and called for de-escalation, Mazloum said the statements are not (strong) enough to deter the Turks from launching such an offensive.

Turkey has carried out a series of incursions into Syria since 2016 and already controls parts of northern Syria. Erdogan said the new military offensive, scheduled to take place at the most opportune time for us, would target the regions of Tel Rifaat, Manbij and Kobani, also known by its Arabic name Ayn Al Arab.

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