Hundreds of anti-ISIS fighters belonging to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are due to be deployed in Afrin, where it is under Turkish attack.
U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Tuesday (March 6) it would redeploy 1,700 fighters from front lines against Islamic State (ISIS) to the region of Afrin, where is under Turkish attack.
Turkey and allied Syrian rebels are waging a weeks-long offensive on Afrin, which is held by a Kurdish group that makes up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
At a press conference on Tuesday, the SDF announced it would pull fighters out of areas of eastern Syria, where they have been fighting pockets of ISIS militants, in order to shore up defenses in Afrin.
“We took the difficult decision to pull our forces out of Deir Ezzor province and battlefronts against Daesh (ISIS) to head to the Afrin battle,” said Abu Omar al-Idlibi, an SDF commander, saying his units numbered 1,700 fighters.
Idlibi spoke to AFP in the football stadium in Raqqa, which the SDF recaptured from ISIS in October with help from the U.S.-led international coalition.
“We fought Daesh. We helped the coalition in Raqqa, but without the coalition defending its partners,” Idlibi said.
“Our people in Afrin are our priority. Protecting them is more important than the international coalition’s decisions.”
Ankara and allied Syrian rebels launched their offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin on January 20 and have since captured a strip along the border between the enclave and Turkish territory.
The operation has so far captured 40 percent of the enclave, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor said on Tuesday.