Published: Sat, December 15, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

USA warns Turkey against offensive into northeast Syria

USA warns Turkey against offensive into northeast Syria

He also reiterated Turkey's determination to bring peace to the area east of the Euphrates River in Syria.

Since September 10, SDF fighters backed by US -led coalition airstrikes have killed 922 ISIS jihadis in and around the group's last enclave, the Observatory notes.

Turkey has complained over the slow implementation of a deal with Washington to pull YPG militants out of Manbij, which lies in mainly Arab territory west of the Euphrates, back to the eastern bank of the river.

SDF commanders said yesterday that at least 5,000 ISIS fighters had made a decision to remain in the town and the surrounding villages to fight to the death in a final stand against the advancing forces.

The capture of Hajin, however, does not mark the end of the group, which still holds some villages nearby and has a scattered presence and sleeper cells in both countries.

Recent video footage has been published on social media networks, showing members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group abandoning their commander and fleeing for their lives while fighting the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria.

According to Abdel Rahman, a total of 17,000 fighters from the Kurdish-Arab SDF alliance are involved in the operation to flush the IS group out of its last bastion.

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The observatory said that since the SDF offensive began on September 10, 922 ISIS gunmen, 539 SDF fighters and 324 civilians have been killed.

According to Rahman, more than 320 civilians were also killed, many of them in air strikes by the US-led coalition. Erdoğan then reportedly received a call from President Donald Trump himself, urging the Turkish leader not to go through with the campaign.

"We've done a very, very major job on ISIS", he said on Tuesday, using another acronym for IS. "Within another 30 days, there won't be any of them left".

Western and other officials have repeatedly announced deadlines for a final victory over Islamic State militants but the group is proving resilient.

As the offensive by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces intensified over the past days under the cover of airstrikes by the USA -led coalition, ISIS fighters withdrew south to areas east of the Euphrates river and west of SDF positions along the border with Iraq. "Now we are saying that you should cleanse, remove them, or else we will enter Manbij". American troops are stationed in Manbij, which was cleared of the IS group in 2016, and Washington and Ankara recently started joint patrols around the town.

On Thursday, YPG leader Mazloum Kobani, who had met with the top US diplomat for Syria, James Jeffrey, told Reuters that the USA had made "serious attempts" to stop a Turkish offensive against Kurdish fighters.

Meanwhile, Ankara said a Turkish soldier was killed in the northern Syrian region of Afrin after coming under fire from Kurdish fighters.

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