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Rudaw

Syria

SDF redeploys 1,700 fighters from ISIS fight to Afrin

By Rudaw 6/3/2018
A member of the SDF pictured in Raqqa. File photo: AFP
A member of the SDF pictured in Raqqa. File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have redeployed 1,700 fighters from the frontlines against ISIS to support the Kurdish canton of Afrin battling a Turkish military incursion. 

“We took the difficult decision to pull our forces out of Deir ez-Zor province and battlefronts against Daesh [ISIS] to head to the Afrin battle,” said Abu Omar al-Edilbi, a spokesperson for Arab militias within the SDF fighting ISIS in eastern Syria, in a press conference on Tuesday. 

A total of 1,700 troops from the Syrian Arab militias will be moved, he added, explaining that they have worked with the coalition, but the people of Afrin are their priority. “Protecting them is more important than the international coalition’s decisions,” he told AFP. 

Seven hundred have already moved to Afrin, he detailed to Reuters, explaining that the fighters are originally from Aleppo and Idlib and have families who have been displaced to the Kurdish enclave, so they feel that they have no choice but to pull their forces and go to Afrin. 

According to UN figures, 323,000 people are living in Afrin and nearby areas under Kurdish control. Of them, 192,000 are in need of humanitarian aid and 125,000 are IDPs displaced from other parts of Syria. 

The announcement confirms a Pentagon statement on Monday that operations against ISIS in eastern Syria were in an “operational pause.”

The US-backed SDF, a Kurdish led coalition of local fighters in northern Syria, has been fighting ISIS in their last stronghold in Syria’s Middle Euphrates River Valley in Deir ez-Zor province after taking much of the province north of the river and the city of Raqqa last year. 

The US stressed that the pause in the offensive does not alter the nature of the coalition’s mission in Syria. 

“This operational pause will not cause us to lose sight on our main objective, which is ISIS,” said Pentagon spokesperson Col. Rob Manning. 

The US will continue its own operations, another Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway confirmed, pledging that none of the territory gained from the terror group had been lost. 

“We are aware of the departure of some SDF forces from the Middle Euphrates River Valley and continue to point out the potential costs of any distraction from the defeat-ISIS fight,” Rankine-Galloway said. 

Turkey launched its operation on the northwestern Syrian enclave Afrin on January 20, characterizing it as a counter-terror operation to combat PKK-linked groups. The Kurdish groups in Syria deny the terror charge and have been a key Western ally in the war against ISIS in the country. 

When Turkey began its operations, Kurdish forces within the SDF warned that they would consider withdrawing some troops from eastern Syria and sending them to back their compatriots in Afrin. 

Updated at 5:40 pm

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DAVID COHEN | 6/3/2018
TURKEY = ISIS
Shabo | 6/3/2018
This will not help them they say they fight for west and west not even care so for what do they even fight? Better Kurds join FSA to protect themselfs from US Assad or PKK who just bring betrayal and suffering to the region. There are already thousads of FSA Kurdish fighter and more units will be established.
Albert | 6/3/2018
as per usual Kurds will get all happy stating Turkey will now be defeated and Kurds will write a new destiny in their history. Three days later the same thing that happened to Assads dog will happen with bombs falling on their head from an F16. More dead Kurds on the way.
FAUthman | 6/3/2018
So what is significant about that? answer: they are Arabs not Kurds. " We are joining the YPG in Afrin, we will still be fighting ISIS since the FSA is not much different and many are al Qaeda or are ex ISIS militia", their leader, Idlibi said something like that. This is key as the rationale for a possible US support to the SDF (YPG) in Afrin. I wonder what the CIA could be cooking up here with sending fighters to train in Guam and now its possible involvement in this move of 1700 Arab fighters going to Afrin.
View | 6/3/2018
Very confused about US lack of support to their alias SDF in Afrin. Global Coalition protected SDF, which is part of the coalition, against regime and their proxies, why not against al-Nusra and their proxies? Your most effective partner on the ground against global terrorism is bleeding slowly, what are you going to do about it? Very tragic US policies and still trusting Mr Erdog... Remember since first Gulf War Turks have been against all your moves in the ME, except those against Kurds. Come on!
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