ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The general command of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Wednesday a temporary halt to an offensive against the Islamic State (IS) after Turkish attacks targeted the SDF-affiliated forces’ positions in Kobani and Tal Abyad on Tuesday and Wednesday.
We “consider these attacks to be direct support provided by the Turkish state to reorganize IS, and was directly coordinated with them and coincided with reverse attacks carried out by IS recently in Hajin,” the SDF said on Wednesday.
The attack comes as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the US-backed SDF are engaged in a massive fight against IS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley in Deir al-Zor province. The Kurdish forces recently sent reinforcements to the area after IS retook some villages in a counterattack.
“The continuation of these [Turkish] attacks will cause a long-term suspension of our military campaign against a terrorist organization,” the SDF warned.
This is not the first time the SDF has halted its operation against IS in Deir al-Zor due to Turkish attacks on its forces.
In March, Turkey’s assault on the Kurdish canton of Afrin in northwest Syria led to atemporary suspension of ground operations against IS, although coalition air strikes continued. The SDF resumed operations against the extremist group in Deir al-Zor in May, in coordination with the coalition.
“The temporary halt by the SDF in Deir al-Zor is likely due to recent Turkish offensives against the coalition partner,” Diliman Abdulkader, the Director of the Kurdistan Project at the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), told Kurdistan 24.
“This halt in fighting will only benefit IS, allow the terror group to reorganize and strengthen their positions, similar to the attack against Afrin by Turkey.”
Abdulkader said “Turkey is indirectly assisting IS by striking the SDF,” and noted that “this is an opportunity for the US to demonstrate to the SDF that they are not alone.”
Washington “must pressure Turkey to end bombardments against the coalition partner,” he stated. “Turkey clearly sees the Kurds as a greater threat than IS.”
Bassam Ishak, who represents the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC)’s political bureau in Washington, told Kurdistan 24 Turkey’s assault on Kobani and Tal Abyad is beneficial to IS in the Euphrates basin region.
“This indirect help of Turkey needs to stop, and Turkey’s NATO allies bare the responsibility to pressure and demand [Ankara] to stop these unprovoked attacks.”
Earlier, Army Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesperson for the US-led Coalition, called on Turkey to “synchronize their efforts” following Turkish cross-border shelling.
“In regards to the statement made by President Erdogan, we encourage all military partners and coalition members to synchronize their efforts to ensure our members can continue to operate safely,” Ryan told Kurdistan 24.
“We understand Turkey’s concern for the safety of their citizens, and the Coalition goal remains the same, the enduring defeat of [IS], and it is best to work and communicate together.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany