Published: Thu, November 01, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Backed Syrian fighters halt anti-IS offensive after Turkey attacks Kurdish forces

Backed Syrian fighters halt anti-IS offensive after Turkey attacks Kurdish forces

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is a US -backed coalition of Kurdish-Arab fighters dominated by the People's Protection Units (YPG). The Turkish defense ministry later said the Kurdish militia fired on Turkish targets and that Turkish troops retaliated, killing 10 fighters.

In early June, Ankara and Washington adopted a road map envisaging the Kurdish forces' withdrawal from Manbij and the transfer of control over the Syrian city to Turkish and United States troops.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey has finished preparations for operations on the eastern side of Euphrates River.

ISIS has been driven to just a few towns in the area and the USA and its coalition allies conducted 184 air and artillery strikes last week targeting the terror group's last remaining territory, striking command and control centers, weapons caches and vehicles. We will soon crush the terrorist organization with more comprehensive and effective operations. "We can come suddenly any night", he said.

American support for Kurdish-led forces to combat Islamic State militants has incensed Turkey. Most of the Kurdish-controlled territory lies east of the Euphrates. French and American troops are on the ground fighting ISIS with the Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

USA forces, accompanied by Kurdish People's Protection Units fighters, drive their armored vehicles on April 28, 2017, near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey.

Ankara considers the armed Kurdish YPG and YPJ and the political party PYD in northern Syria branches of the PKK and has launched two military offensives against them.

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On Wednesday, Palladino said the USA has been in touch both with Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces "to emphasize the need to de-escalate the situation". Erdogan said the Turkish prosecutor repeated to his Saudi counterpart Turkey's extradition request of 18 suspects detained in Saudi Arabia for the October 2 killing to be put on trial in Istanbul.

Palladino also noted that the SDF was "in the midst of offensive operations" against IS-although late on Wednesday the SDF announced a pause in that offensive in response to the Turkish attacks.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said four Kurdish fighters were killed and six were wounded in the attack on Wednesday.

As agreed by the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies in June, Turkish and US forces are now carrying out patrols in Manbij, but those are independent of each other.

The strategic town lies west of the Euphrates and was taken by SDF forces from the Islamic State in 2016.

The forces of Turkey and the US-led coalition have been carrying out independent patrols in Manbij since June 18. "The joint patrols are expected to start [either] today [or] tomorrow", Akar said Tuesday. The YPG has stated that their forces have withdrawn from the city.

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