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Kurdish SDF redeploys hundreds of fighters from IS front to Afrin Open in fullscreen

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Kurdish SDF redeploys hundreds of fighters from IS front to Afrin

The 50,000-strong YPG has allied with the US in eradicating IS. [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 March, 2018

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Turkey and allied Syrian rebels are waging a massive offensive against a Kurdish militia in the Syrian town of Afrin with the YPG rushing in reserves.

US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces announced on Tuesday that they would redeploy more than 1,700 fighters from the front lines of the battle against the Islamic State to the besieged Syrian enclave of Afrin.

Turkey and allied Syrian rebels are waging a weeks-long offensive in the Afrin region, which is held by a Kurdish militia that makes up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 

"We took the difficult decision to pull our forces out of Deir az-Zour province and battlefronts against Daesh (IS) to head to the Afrin battle," said Abu Omar al-Idlibi, an SDF commander, saying his units numbered 1,700 fighters. 

"We fought Daesh. We helped the coalition in Raqqa, but without the coalition defending its partners," Idlibi said.

Idlibi spoke to AFP in the football stadium in Raqqa, which the SDF recaptured from IS in October with help from the US-led international coalition.

"Our people in Afrin are our priority. Protecting them is more important than the international coalition's decisions."

Ankara and allied Syrian rebels launched their offensive against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin on 20 January and have since captured a strip along the border between the enclave and Turkish territory. 

The 50,000-strong YPG has allied with the US in eradicating the Islamic State group from northern Syria and have been armed by Washington since May 2017.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is deemed a terrorist group by the US, the EU and Turkey.

The Syrian regime has chosen to ally itself with the Kurdish YPG in its fight against Turkey in Afrin, despite being at odds elsewhere in Syria.

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