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An Army of Revolutionaries (Jaysh al-Thuwar) commander within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has said the group are 12km from uniting Rojava’s central and western cantons.
Speaking to Sputnik, Army of Revolutionaries commander Hesen Efrini said their aim was to unite the central Kobane and western Afrin Cantons in Rojava-Northern Syria Federation.
Efrin said they had recently liberated 10 villages from Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) in the al Bab area to get within 12km of the coveted city.
Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels also continue their march to al Bab in Syria’s north. With the SDF also closing in on the strategically important city it is expected that the two forces will clash at some point. Turkey wants its rebels to take the city to prevent the unification of the cantons and a contiguous Kurdish entity in the region.
In a surprise statement made by the Pentagon yesterday the US-led anti-IS coalition declared that it was not backing the drive by Turkish forces and Syrian rebels to retake al Bab from the jihadist IS group.
US Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesman for the coalition fighting the jihadist group in Syria and Iraq said the decision had been taken unilaterally by Turkey.
The lack of coalition support for the Al-Bab operation illustrates the strained ties as Turkey and its allies adopt disparate strategies for defeating IS in areas the jihadists still control in northern Syria.
“What we would like to do is to continue to work with them (the Turks) to develop a plan where everyone remains focused” on defeating IS, Dorrian said.
Turkey has been accused of weakening the fight against IS by targeting the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a major component of the SDF in its fight against IS. Turkey accuses the YPG of having ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is fighting the Turkish state for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey’s southeast.
Source: Sputnik Turkish, AFP