US-backed Syrian fighters resume offensive against IS

November 11, 2018 GMT

BEIRUT (AP) — U.S.-backed Syrian fighters resumed their ground offensive Sunday against the Islamic State group in the last territories controlled by the extremists in eastern Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement that the decision to resume the fighting came after threats from Turkey against the Kurdish-led force dropped due to diplomatic activities.

The SDF said in late October it was temporarily suspending its campaign against IS in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, accusing Turkey of jeopardizing its efforts.


The group said that the aim of the renewed operation that began two months ago is “to work for the final defeat of Daesh organization,” using an Arab acronym to refer to the group.

Turkey considers the SDF a terror threat and an extension of Kurdish rebels waging an insurgency within Turkey. U.S. support for the Kurdish-led forces has resulted in increased tension between Washington and Ankara.

Last month, in a spike in tensions, Turkey said its military shelled Kurdish positions across the border in Syria, east of the Euphrates River.

Since SDF suspended operations, IS has launched several offensives that have left scores of U.S.-backed fighters dead or wounded.

Despite the cessation of ground operations, the U.S.-led coalition continued with its airstrikes against the extremist group.

The SDF said its fighters captured a senior IS commander in the northern city of Raqqa which until last year was the de facto capital of the extremists.

“This shows that the organization still has roots and sleeper cells in liberated areas,” it said.