US allies temporarily halt campaign against IS in Syria

US allies temporarily halt campaign against IS in Syria

On Wednesday, the SDF said the Turkish attacks had forced it to suspend its USA -backed campaign against Islamic State near the Iraqi border.

The offensive did not come as a surprise as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had made several warnings since mid-September about impending full-blown military action against the YPG positions on the east of the Euphrates.

The forces of Turkey and the US-led coalition have been carrying out independent patrols in Manbij since June 18. "We're fully supportive of the road map and the combined joint patrols, and I am confident they will be very effective".

The Turkish government has always been seeking the YPG withdrawal from Manbij over security concerns, as it regards the YPG as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), blacklisted by Ankara as a terrorist organization.

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State group said Thursday it was working to "de-escalate" fighting between Turkey and a Kurdish-led alliance battling the jihadists in Syria.

Kurdish ground troops were a key element in the US -backed offensive that pushed ISIS out of Manbij in 2016.

The U.S. expressed "great concern" over Turkey's shelling of U.S. -backed Kurdish fighters in an area of northern Syria where American forces are embedded, an offensive that has added a new strain to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies' already rocky ties.

U.S. Central Command said in a news release that a ground force commander agreed on by both countries will lead the joint patrols.

Turkey's president said Tuesday his country has finalized plans for a "comprehensive and effective" operation that would target USA -backed Kurdish militia in Syria east of the Euphrates River, a move that could further increase tension in the area where US -led coalition forces are based.

The plan foresees the withdrawal of the YPG from the region where American and Turkish soldiers were expected to conduct joint patrols.

"Unilateral military strikes into northwest Syria by any party, particularly as American personnel may be present or in the vicinity, are of great concern to us", State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters on Wednesday. Ankara regards the United States-backed YPG as a terrorist organization due to its ties with the illegal PKK.

"Soon, we will descend on them with more comprehensive and effective [strength]", Erdogan said to leaders from his own party on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

His remarks came a day after the Turkish forces shelled positions of the Kurdish militia in northern Syria.

The US military estimates around 2,000 IS fighters are holed up in and around Hajin along the Euphrates River valley in Deir el-Zor province near the border with Iraq.

"We have completed all preparations for the east of the Euphrates".

USA relations with Turkey, one of its closest allies in the Middle East for decades, have been strained nearly to breaking point in recent months by differences over Syria and a range of other issues. It also envisions Kurdish YPG forces withdrawing from the town to the east of the Euphrates.

Earlier this year, Turkey and the United States agreed the YPG would withdraw from Manbij.

"Offensive operations have been halted, defensive operations continue".

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