A Kurdish fighter from the SDF is seen during clashes with ISIS militants in southeastern Hasakah. Photo: ARA News
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KOBANE – The US anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk on Thursday said that the coalition backs the Turkish operation in Jarabulus, but also the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) efforts in the war against the Islamic State (ISIS).
“We support our NATO ally Turkey in protecting its border from ISIL terrorists, and struck ISIL targets near Jarabulus earlier today,” McGurk said, using another acronym for ISIS. “Ejection of ISIL from Jarabulus [in northern Syria] eliminates a primary border hub for transit of fighters and operatives for terrorist attacks.”
Nevertheless, the senior US official said they continue to back the Kurdish-led SDF forces who have recently liberated Manbij city from ISIS.
“We also support the Syrian Democratic Forces which have proven a reliable and extremely capable force in the fight against ISIL,” he said.
“In Manbij we are now working to support stabilization and removal of IEDs to permit IDPs to safely return,” the US coalition’s official said.
“Our coalition will encourage unity of focus on ISIL which remains a dangerous and common threat in Syria, Iraq, and globally.”
“We are now focused intensively on setting the conditions to eject ISIL terrorists permanently from its HQs in Mosul and Raqqa,” McGurk added.
Also, US-led coalition spokesman Colonel John Dorrian on Thursday said that the SDF forces were moving from the Euphrates.
“The Syrian Democratic Forces have moved east across the Euphrates to prepare for the eventual liberation of Raqqa, Syria,” Dorrian said.
The coalition statements come after increased tensions between Turkish-backed rebels and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), 7 kilometers from the town of Jarabulus.
This might make it more difficult for the anti-ISIS forces to focus on Raqqa [ISIS de facto capital], while both are competing for control over the leftovers of the ISIS-held areas in northern Aleppo.
On Thursday, the SDF accused Turkey of bombing the Al-Dandanah village north of Manbij with chemical weapons.
Turkey so far has not responded to the accusations.
Speaking to ARA News, Ceng Sagnic, a researcher with the Tel Aviv-based Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, said there is a risk of more conflict and tensions between the US-allies.
“The US government’s approach to the Syrian case includes the perspective of creating a win-win situation for its local and international allies,” he said.
“The recent support for Turkey and Turkish-backed rebels in Jarablus at the expense of SDF clearly reflects such policy and intends to create a win-win situation both for Turkey and SDF,” Heras added.
The analyst said that US will try to support both sides, although this could lead to clashes.
“The US-led coalition can definitely support both sides as long as the focus of their fight will remain on ISIS, and such policy is most likely to concentrate on limiting SDF and Turkey-backed rebels to different geographical areas in order to prevent major encounters,” he told ARA News.
“There is such a risk, but both sides’ dependency on the US support for their operational capacity in Syria is a stronger factor to prevent clashes as long as the US stays in Syria with a focus on ISIS,” he added.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News