February 12, 2018

US Defense Secretary says attacks on Afrin distract Kurds from fight against Islamic State

Featuring Nicholas Heras

Source: The Region

Journalist Wladimir Van Wilgenburg

Defense Secretary James Mattis on Sunday called the attacks by Turkey on Afrin, launched on 20 January, ‘a distraction’ and said that the Kurds inside the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are worried about Afrin which is causing their attention to shift away from ISIS.

“You've got the distraction of what's going on up in Afrin right now, which is drawing off some of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which have got about 50 percent -- that's probably not a firm percentage; could be less, could be more that are Kurds,” he said.

The official confirmed that some fighters from the East of the Euphrates have travelled to Afrin to fight back the Turkish attacks.

“So they see their fellow Kurds in Afrin under attack, so that is causing at least their attention to shift up there.  In some cases, some of the troops have drawn off to there.  Not a significant number right now, but you know, between the concentration of ISIS and the distraction of Afrin, then you've got tough fighting down along the line on contact there, in what we call the Middle Euphrates River Valley,” he added.

Read the full article here.


  • Nicholas Heras

    Former Fellow, Middle East Security Program

    Nicholas A. Heras is a former Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), working in the Middle East Security Program. His work focused on the analysis of complex...