US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) (Photo credit: AFP)
On 13 December, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) arrested an alleged high-ranking emir of the Islamic State in northern Syria during a joint operation with the US-led coalition, despite ongoing Turkish attacks in the region, Rudaw reports.
“The operations resulted in arresting one of the ISIS emirs along with two other terrorists who were responsible for supplying the terrorist cells with weapons and ammunition in an attempt to target the prisons and al-Hawl camp,” the statement says.
While the SDF and the US-led coalition’s operations against ISIS continue, the current Turkish aerial campaign briefly halted all anti-IS operations, with Washington raising concerns about a possible resurgence of the Islamic State group in the region.
Meanwhile, the Turkish government announced its readiness for talks with Damascus under the condition that the Syrian government “acts realistically.” Turkiye claims its aim is to strengthen the fight against terrorism following the launch of attacks against Kurdish groups in the country’s north.
“We have been holding talks with the regime for some time now through the Intelligence services. If the regime acts realistically, we are ready to work together on counter-terrorism, the political process, and the return of Syrian (refugees),” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Turkiye launched ‘Operation Claw Sword’ on November 20, targeting Kurdish separatist groups in Syria, which it holds responsible for the 13 November bomb attack in Istanbul.
Alongside SDF positions, Ankara reportedly targeted SAA checkpoints in Tal Rifaat and Tal Abyad, resulting in casualties of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
Turkiye has been occupying Syria illegally since 2016 to establish a buffer zone between its territory and the Kurdish militants operating in the country. Damascus has referred to the intrusion as a “colonialist” scheme against the Syrian people.
However, Russia anticipates that Turkiye would halt plans for a potential ground operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria. A former US official warned that if the operation went forward, relations between Washington and Ankara would “collapse,” according to Al-Awsat news.
On 21 November, Russian and US officials called on Ankara to show restraint in northern Syria and Iraq following a wave of attacks by the Turkish army on positions held by Kurdish armed groups.