SDF at the Frontline: Countering ISIS Threats Amidst Turkish Attacks

By: Abdallah Magdy

Challenging events have unfolded in the Middle East over the past months, including Israeli attacks on Palestinians in Gaza since October 7th and escalating conflict in Sudan between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces militia, which has placed millions of Sudanese civilians in the midst of ongoing fighting since mid-April.

ISIS continues to exploit the ever-changing regional dynamics to expand its activities and operational scope. The organization’s presence in Africa, which had long been seen as an offshoot, has grown stronger as it recruits fighters and gains control over more territories than ever before since its establishment in 2015.

The situation in Syria remains precarious due to Turkey’s ongoing attacks on several areas in northeastern Syria, resulting in the displacement of civilians and putting any refugees who seek shelter there at risk. There are also serious concerns that approximately 12,000 ISIS fighters held in detention may escape.

The Turkish attacks have led the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to announce the suspension of their coordination with the US-led international coalition in the fight against ISIS. Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the SDF, stated, “We can say that our work against ISIS with the international coalition has been halted because we are preoccupied with the Turkish attacks.”

ISIS emerges as the biggest winner in this situation. The decision has raised concerns among observers and experts that the military escalation between Ankara and the SDF could have negative repercussions on international counterterrorism efforts. There are warnings that ISIS stands to benefit the most from the looming wide-scale conflict resulting from Turkish operations in northern and eastern Syria.

Syrian Democratic Forces is a key solution to eliminate ISIS

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) play a crucial role in the fight against ISIS. If they are preoccupied with the ongoing Turkish airstrikes, it poses a danger to the region, specifically, and the world, in general. President Joe Biden emphasized the role of the SDF in combating ISIS in a statement released by the White House on its official website, stating that “the Turkish government’s actions, including its military offensive in northeast Syria, undermine the SDF’s efforts to defeat ISIS.”

In mid-July, the commander of the SDF stated that one of Turkey’s objectives in invading the region was to strike a blow to the efforts of the SDF and the international coalition against terrorism. He also mentioned that it is challenging for their forces to fight on two fronts against ISIS and Turkey, and any Turkish occupation attack undermines the war against the organization.

Political analysts have warned of the resurgence of ISIS in northeastern Syria, which poses a danger to the region and the world, particularly in terms of these elements’ ability to return to their countries of origin and the threat they pose to those nations.

Turkish attacks aid ISIS expansion

Turkish political analyst Ismail Engin, speaking on the “Target” platform, states that Turkish attacks in the region pose a significant threat to the Middle East, particularly Syria. These attacks continually drain and distract Syrian forces from tracking terrorist hotspots in Syria.

Engin asserts that these Turkish attacks give ISIS the opportunity to expand and regain its strength to carry out terrorist operations that threaten global security and stability. Recent terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS in European capitals were a result of the world’s preoccupation with events in Gaza.

Supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces

The importance of strengthening the military capabilities of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and increasing support in the region to prevent the emergence of a new strong presence of the terrorist organization that threatens the entire region and the world cannot be overstated. Even if the threat of ISIS disappears from Syria, Turkey will seek any other justification to maintain its presence in Syria to protect its interests.

Political analyst Mohammed Boustatt stresses that the SDF is the most important and final solution to eliminate ISIS and prevent its spread in the Middle East or the world. Turkish attacks disrupt the security stability in the region, creating a fertile environment for the spread of terrorist organizations like ISIS.

Boustatt emphasizes that these attacks weaken the SDF, which is one of the most significant fighting forces against ISIS in Syria. The SDF has played a crucial role in defeating ISIS in Syria since 2014 and includes many Kurdish fighters who pose a threat to Turkey.

It is essential to support the SDF in its war against ISIS because ISIS in Syria poses a global threat. These elements can access their home countries and carry out terrorist acts that threaten the world and escalate conflicts.


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