WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says offensive operations against Islamic State fighters in eastern Syria have been paused because U.S.-backed Kurdish soldiers have shifted to a separate fight against Turkish forces.
A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Rob Manning, called it an “operational pause.” He said that although ground operations have been temporarily suspended in the Euphrates River Valley near the Iraqi border, U.S. airstrikes against IS holdouts in that area are continuing. This includes areas around the city of Abu Kamal.
Against U.S. wishes, Kurdish members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces who had been fighting to eliminate remaining pockets of IS in the Euphrates River Valley have moved to the Afrin enclave in northwest Syria. Turkish forces have been attacking in Afrin for the past six weeks, seeking to drive out Kurdish forces.