Mar 06 2018

Syrian Arab militia sending 1,700 fighters to fight Turkey in Afrin

Kurdish-allied Syrian Arab militia groups are redeploying 1,700 fighters to the mostly Kurdish Afrin enclave in Syria from other fronts to help fend off a Turkish offensive there, they told Reuters on Tuesday.

"We have taken out around 1,700 fighters ... to defend Afrin against terrorism," said Abu Omar al-Edilbi, a spokesman for the militias.

“We are (originally) from Aleppo and Idlib,” Edilbi said. “We had to because our families were homeless and displaced to Afrin more than three years ago... We had to (redeploy fighters) unfortunately and we informed our leadership that we must pull our forces.”

The U.S. Defense Department said on Monday Turkey's incursion against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria had affected the coalition forces' fight against Islamic State, leading to an "operational pause".

Turkey launched an air and ground assault on Afrin on Jan. 20 to drive out the YPG, which it considers to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has been fighting inside Turkey since 1984.