Kurdish-allied Syrian Arab militias are redeploying 1,700 fighters from fronts against Islamic State to the Afrin region to help fend off a Turkish offensive, they said on Tuesday. Most recently, Ankara was infuriated by Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning's statement that US support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will continue, specifically praising a "General Mazlum" and warning that Turkey's Afrin operation was distracting the SDF from fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
At a news conference on Tuesday, the SDF announced it would pull fighters out of areas of eastern Syria, where they have been fighting pockets of IS jihadists, in order to shore up defences in Afrin.
The interesting thing is that on March 5, the day when the Pentagon spokesman accused Turkey of distracting from the fight against ISIL, Turkish police detained 16 ISIL militants who had infiltrated from Iraq and Syria and were allegedly preparing attacks against USA targets.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning said some SDF ground operations had temporarily halted.
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Turkey and allied Syrian rebels are waging a weeks-long offensive in the Afrin region, which is held by a Kurdish militia that makes up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Ankara kicked off its military assault on Afrin in order to eliminate the YPG, which it considers to be terrorists because of alleged associations with Kurdish insurgents in Turkey.
U.S. and coalition officials have said they will not get involved in the Afrin fighting and expressed concern it would detract from the SDF's operations against IS. "The problem is the aircraft bombing the villages".
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on global law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.