Syria Kurds halt joint ops with US-led coalition after Turkish raids -spokesman

QAMISHLI, Syria, Dec 2 (Reuters) – The Syrian Democratic Forces, the U.S.-backed group that is helping to defeat Islamic State jihadists in Syria, said on Friday it had halted all joint counter-terrorism operations with the United States and other allies as a result. Turkish bombardment in the area of ​​his control.

Turkey has ramped up its shelling and airstrikes in northern Syria in recent weeks and is preparing a ground invasion against Syrian Kurdish fighters that it dubs terrorists but which make up the bulk of the US-backed SDF.

The SDF has long warned that fighting a new Turkish offensive would divert resources from protecting prisons holding IS fighters or fighting IS sleeper cells that still carry out hit-and-run attacks in Syria.

Aram Henna told Reuters that “all coordination and joint counter-terrorism operations” with the US-led coalition against the remnants of the Islamic State in Syria as well as “all joint special operations that we conduct regularly” had been halted.

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Turkey’s bombing – using long-range weapons and airstrikes – has upset its NATO ally Washington.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told his Turkish counterpart on Wednesday that the United States is in “strong opposition to Turkey’s new military operation in Syria.”

Austin also said the Turkish attack “immediately threatens the safety of US personnel working with local partners in Syria to defeat ISIS,” according to the Pentagon. read more

The US-led coalition has backed the SDF with airstrikes, military equipment and advisers since 2017, first helping it retake territory from IS and then supporting clearing operations against jihadist sleeper cells.

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Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder earlier told reporters that only joint patrols had been suspended and operations against IS had not stopped.

The US-led coalition did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters on Friday about whether more operations had been delayed.

Sheikhmous Ahmed, head of the displacement department in northeastern Syria, told Reuters that Turkish strikes in late November had disrupted operations in and around al-Hol, a detention camp where women and children linked to IS fighters are being held.

He said humanitarian operations were delayed for several days and that some minors linked to IS had tried to escape but were caught.

A Western source briefed on the matter confirmed that there were “some worrying movements” in the section where foreign IS-linked women and children were being held.

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SDF chief Mazloum Abdi earlier this week told Reuters he wanted a “stronger” message from Washington after seeing Turkey’s unprecedented deployment along the border. read more

“We are still nervous. We have to be strong, a more solid statement to stop Turkey,” he said. “Turkey has announced its intention and now feels something out. The beginning of the invasion will depend on how it analyzes the position of other countries.”

Reporting by Orhan Qereman in Qamishli, Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman and Jonathan Spicer in Istanbul; Writing by Maya Gebeily Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Kim Coghill, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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