A former spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria said that Turkish attacks against Kurdish targets in northeast Syria had terrorised the civilian population and disrupted operations against the jihadi group.
The pre-dominantly Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its People’s Protection Units (YPG), who formed the backbone of the joint task force Operation Inherent Resolve, have been forced to halt several operations against ISIS, and focus on preparation for a possible Turkish ground invasion, according to Colonel Myles Caggins.
“The SDF is still going to have checkpoints and local security points but they are pausing some of the more sophisticated raids,” the former spokesperson of the coalition told The National News.
“Now we just have US troops sitting on the SDF bases and waiting for the situation to pass so they can resume collecting intelligence and planning operations against ISIS,” the colonel said.
Turkey has been accusing Kurdish groups in northeast Syria of organising a deadly bomb attack in Istanbul last month, despite the SDF’s repeated statements denying any involvement.
Since last month, the Turkish Armed Forces have been conducting airstrikes against Kurdish militia, while the government says preparations for a ground offensive is underway, despite Washington and Moscow’s objections.
“The attacks are causing despair and terrorising civilian populations all through northern and eastern Syria, including a variety of people like Christians, Muslims, Kurds, Turkmen and Assyrians,” Caggins said, adding that the situation might worsen because winter is approaching. Turkish attacks had already destroyed power stations, which are vital for providing heat during the winter, according to the colonel.