SDF says will focus on liberation of Afrin, sleeper cells after ISIS defeat

The SDF leadership underlined in a statement that after the Islamic State is defeated, the Kurdish-led forces would focus on the elimination of sleeper cells through precise “military and security campaigns” with support from the US-led coalition.
author_image Wladimir van Wilgenburg

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The General Military Council of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Sunday said they would focus on the liberation of Afrin, which Turkey occupied in March last year, and combat Islamic State sleeper cells after the extremist group’s military defeat.

Among the SDF’s priorities after the Islamic State’s defeat isthe return of Afrin’s original inhabitants to their homes and an end to the demographic change in the region, the local Hawar News Agency (ANHA) reported.

The SDF leadership underlined in a statement that after the militant group is defeated, the Kurdish-led forces would focus on the elimination of sleeper cells through precise “military and security campaigns” with support from the US-led coalition.

It emphasized that the Islamic State is trapped in a small area in the Baghuz village and that the battle would end after they liberate prisoners and civilians from the extremist group.

The SDF also highlighted the importance of drying up the Islamic State’s “ideological and economic ground,” which the terrorists depend on.

Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF media center, previously warned that the Islamic State as an ideology is not defeated yet.

“We, as the SDF, think that dealing with and finishing off the Islamic State militarily was the easy step, but now comes the more challenging phase,” he told Kurdistan 24.

The leadership of the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) discussed the future of Syria's northeast after the Islamic State's territorial defeat, Feb. 17, 2019. (Photo: Hawar News Agency)
The leadership of the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) discussed the future of Syria's northeast after the Islamic State's territorial defeat, Feb. 17, 2019. (Photo: Hawar News Agency)

In a meeting on Sunday, the SDF’s General Military Council discussed the future of northeastern Syria after the Islamic State’s defeat and the upcoming US withdrawal. Senior SDF leaders, such as Mazlum Kobani, the commander of the SDF, took part in the meeting. 

In its statement, the General Military Council denied they are a danger to the Turkish state, underlining that Turkey is occupying Syrian territory, such as the town of Afrin, Al-Bab, Jarabulus, and Idlib.

Despite the occupation of Afrin and other cities, the SDF said they are ready “to solve problems with the Turkish state through dialogue and mutual respect,” noting they are ready to protect their areas “in any case of aggression.”

Regarding the establishment of a safe-zone or buffer zone under international supervision, the SDF said they would welcome it “to establish security and peace on our northern border.”

Senior US lawmakers and military officials are pressing America’s allies in Europe to commit hundreds of troops to create a buffer zone along Syria’s border with Turkey, Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin reported on Friday.

On relations with the Syrian government, the SDF military council said they are ready for dialogue in the framework of a united Syria, as long as it recognizes the special status of the SDF and constitutional recognition of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) of North and East of Syria.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany