Syria Halts Joint Counterterror Ops With US Coalition

( The US-backed group in Syria that helped defeat ISIS said last Friday that it had stopped all joint counterterrorism operations with the US-led coalition since Turkey bombed the area it controls.

The Syrian Democratic Forces have long been warning that fighting a new Turkish incursion would divert resources away from protecting the prison holding ISIS fighters or fighting the ISIS sleeper cells still waging attacks in Syria.

In recent weeks, Turkey has ramped up its shelling and air strikes on northern Syria as it prepares a ground invasion against the Syrian Kurdish fighters it claims are terrorists. However, those Kurdish fighters make up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The SDF’s Aram Henna confirmed to Reuters last Friday that all operations with the US-led coalition, as well as the joint special operations, have been halted due to the Turkish bombardment.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder had previously told reporters that only joint patrols in the region had been suspended while operations against ISIS continue.

Since 2017, the US-led coalition has been backing the SDF by providing air strikes, military equipment, and advisors, first helping it regain territory from ISIS and then supporting clearing operations against the remaining sleeper cells.

According to Sheikhmous Ahmed, the head of the displacement department in northeast Syria, the Turkish raids late last month disrupted operations in and around the al-Hol detention camp which holds the women and children connected to ISIS fighters. Ahmed said humanitarian operations were suspended for several days and some of the children attempted to escape but were caught.

SDF head Mazloum Abdi told Reuters early last week that he would like to see a “stronger” message from Washington on Turkey’s unprecedented deployments along the northern border of Syria.

Last Wednesday, Defense Secretary told his Turkish counterpart that the US strongly opposed the Turkish military’s new operations in northern Syria. Austin warned that the Turkish raids are a direct threat to the safety of US personnel who are “working with local partners in Syria to defeat ISIS,” according to the Pentagon.