Syrian Democratic Forces resume counter-terrorism operations with US

Syrian Democratic Forces resume counter-terrorism operations with US

Syrian Kurdish members of the People's Protection Units attended the funeral of a slain Kurdish commander in the northeastern city of Qamishli on December 6, 2018. DELIL SOULEIMAN AFP BEIRUT - The Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed group that helped defeat Islamic State in Syria, said on Monday it had resumed joint counter-terrorism operations with the United States that were paused due to Turkish bombardment of its area of control.

READ MORE: Islamic State defeated Raqqa in its Syrian capital Raqqa

Turkey has ramped up its air and shelling operations in northern Syria in recent weeks and said it is preparing a ground invasion against Syrian Kurdish fighters that it dubs as terrorists but who make up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces SDF. On Friday, the SDF had said all joint operations had been paused due to the bombardment, a move confirmed by the coalition.

The SDF has warned that fighting off a new Turkish incursion would divert resources from protecting a prison holding IS fighters or fighting IS sleeper cells still waging hit-and-run attacks in Syria.

Simand Ali, a SDF spokesman, told Reuters that joint patrols and training exercises with the coalition had resumed at the weekend after a decrease in Turkish strikes, with four joint patrols carried out on Saturday and Sunday.

READ MORE: T rkiye strikes Kurdish groups in Iraq, Syria after Istanbul blast.

He said that joint training exercises had resumed.

The atmosphere is semi-positive and allows us to undertake joint operations, but we don't know how long these operations will be possible, given the possibility of a ground invasion, he said.

The United States said it sympathizes with NATO ally Turkey's concerns in Syria, but has opposed a ground invasion and said Turkish raids had directly threatened the safety of US personnel.

The US-led coalition has supported the SDF with air strikes, military equipment and advisers since 2017, first helping it wrest back territory from IS and then support clearing operations against jihadist sleeper cells.