US-backed SDF fighters resume offensive against Islamic State in Syria

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Sunday resumed their ground offensive against the Islamic State (IS) in the last territories controlled by the group in eastern Syria, Associated Press reported.

The decision to resume the fighting came following threats from Turkey against the Kurdish-led force decreasing due to diplomatic activities, the SDF said in a statement.

Turkey’s attacks in Kurdish-controlled territory in northern Syria - part of a large scale operation against Kurdish militants in the east of Euphrates River - have led to a temporary halt in an offensive by the U.S.-backed SDF against Islamic State in the Deir al-Zor region.

The SDF said in late October it was temporarily suspending its campaign, accusing Turkey of jeopardizing its efforts.

Turkey considers the SDF an extension of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group waging an insurgency within Turkey.

U.S. support for the SDF has resulted in increased tension between the two NATO allies.

Since SDF suspended operations, AP said, IS has launched several offensives, leaving scores of U.S.-backed fighters dead or wounded.

The U.S.-led coalition has continued with its airstrikes against the extremist group while halting its ground operations.

Meanwhile, the SDF has said its fighters captured a senior IS commander in the northern city of Raqqa, the former capital of the IS seized by the SDF in Oct. 2017.