Hasakah (Kurdistan 24) – Colonel Myles Caggins, spokesperson of the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State, on Monday held a press conference together with the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) spokesperson, Kino Gabriel, and the head of SDF Media Relations, Mustafa Bali, for the first time ever in an undisclosed location in Hasakah.
The coalition official affirmed they would continue to jointly fight the Islamic State in the Hasakah and Deir al-Zor provinces.
“It was an honor to participate in a joint press conference with the SDF spokesmen. We speak in harmony about our steadfast commitment to defeat ISIS sleeper cells,” Colonel Caggins told Kurdistan 24.
After his arrival at the coalition base, Bali welcomed Colonel Caggins to Syria and stated that SDF fighters, in cooperation with the coalition, have protected the “honor” of the world. “We admire the role of the coalition for their support and it was a great battle.”
Bali explained that the media played an “important role during the crisis and showed what was the reality on the ground.” The SDF official also emphasized that joint cooperation between the SDF and the coalition “could end terrorism in the region.”
The coalition spokesperson agreed, adding that “we definitely want to defeat all the terrorism in the region and it’s great to have press here from Rojava, and the United States, including [the] Kurdistan [region].”
In October, US President Donald Trump announced a military presence would remain in eastern Syria to prevent the Islamic State from regaining control over oilfields there.
During the press conference, Caggins stated the primary mission of the US-led coalition continues to be the fight to defeat the terrorist organization.
“With that mission, we also have the right to protect ourselves and now, our mission is to move away from the border areas. As you know we had bases in Manbij, Tabqa, the Lafarge cement factory, and they are all closed. So we are moving our operations and concentrating on eastern Syria and Hasakah and Deir al-Zor.”
He added that the US-led coalition is still deliberating their withdrawal from the Kobani airfield, near Serin. "We also ensure that we deconflict our movements with other military actors,” in a reference to the presence of Syrian, Turkish, and Russian armed forces in the region.
The coalition official underlined he could not talk about Turkish threats to other areas outside of Russian-Turkish and the US-Turkish agreements along the northern Syria border.
Earlier ceasefire agreements between Moscow and Ankara and between Washington and Ankara allow Turkey to keep territory between Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, but doesn't allow Turkey to attack outside of those areas.
"The coalition along the border is not [us]. I refer you to the State Department in DC for those questions. We continue to partner with the SDF in Hasakah and Deir al-Zor,” Caggins asserted. “We hope that all militaries will not harm civilians during any operations they conduct, and that they abide by the agreements they have made.”
Editing by Nadia Riva