On October 31, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that it had halted its military operation against ISIS terrorists in the middle Euphrates River Valley due to the recent Turkish attacks on positions of Kurdish armed groups [they are the core of the SDF] in northern Syria.
“We inform the world, that the Turkish attacks in the north and ISIS attacks in the south against our troops had forced us to stop our current operation temporarily against ISIS in the last pocket of it, the ongoing Turkish attacks on our area will stop our battles against ISIS for long time and that what Turkey is calling for it,” the SDF said in an official statement.
The group also vowed to respond to any new attack by the Turkish military and called on the international community to condemn “the Turkish provocations in the safe areas.”
“We demand our partners in the International [US-led] Coalition to show a clear attitude and stop Turkey from launching attacks on the region and giving more chances to maintain ISIS and providing support for it,” the SDF added.
The Turkish military resumed its artillery strikes on the SDF positions on the Syrian-Turkish border on Ocotober 28. Four fighters of the US-backed group were reportedly killed in the most recent artillery strike on positions around the city of Ayn Arab.
While the SDF claims that these attacks forced it to halt its military operation in the Euphrates Valley, local observers believe that this is only an excuse. Since the beginning of the operation in late September, the US-backed group has faced a series of setbacks. In the last two weeks, a wave of ISIS attacks killed more than 100 fighters of the group and forced it to withdraw from all the newly-capture areas.
Earlier this year, the SDF made a similar excuse and when the Turkish military and its Syrian proxies launched their attack on the Kurdish area of Afrin in northern Aleppo. As a result, the operations against ISIS in the Euphrates Valley were halted for several months.
The SDF decision to halt its operations once again will likely give ISIS more time to reorganize its fighters. This raises the question about the real intentions of the US-led coalition in its “war” on ISIS in Syria.