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US patrols SDF-held areas targeted by Turkey in northern Syria

The U.S. military conducted patrols in areas of northern Syria controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces but targeted by Turkish cross-border firing in recent days.

Mustafa Bali, director of the SDF’s media center, tweeted on Friday, November 2 that the patrols were aimed at easing tensions and to “stop Turkey from launching attacks.”

The U.S.-led Coalition has not yet confirmed that the patrols occurred or their purpose, but a spokesperson told Reuters that it carries out regular military visits and had not increased patrols.

On Thursday, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said the U.S. has “been in touch with our Turkish counterparts” about the cross-border firing.

The previous day, Palladino said that “unilateral military strikes into northwest Syria by any party, particularly as American personnel may be present or in the vicinity, are of great concern to us,” adding that “coordination and consultation between the United States and Turkey” is a better approach, and that the U.S. had been in touch with both the SDF and Turkey “to emphasize the need to de-escalate the situation.”

“Turkey is a NATO ally and a key partner in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and we are fully committed to our ally’s border security,” Palladino said.

The U.S. patrols also come a day after Coalition and Turkish forces began combined patrols near Manbij as part of a “roadmap” reached earlier this year that saw the People’s Protection Units (YPG) withdraw from the city.

That came a day after the SDF said it temporarily halted its fight against Islamic State due to the Turkish military attacks along the Syria-Turkey border east of the Euphrates river.

Friday’s patrol began near al-Shiyok, traveled to Kobani city and then to Tal Abyad, ANHA news agency reported.

Kurdistan 24 reporter Redwan Bezar said that U.S. personnel arrived in Kobani on Friday morning.

“[The U.S. will place] patrols along the border between Kobani and Turkey, to prevent Turkish aggression,” he said.

Images and video of U.S. vehicles and personnel were posted on social media.

Video showed at least four U.S. military vehicles.

Cross-border firing from Turkey into Syria continues

The patrols come as cross-border fire from Turkey into northern Syria which began on Sunday continued.

On Thursday night, several villages in the Kobani and Tal Abyad districts came under fire. Eleven-year-old Sarah Mustafa was shot in the head by a “sniper” in Tal Fendar in Tal Abyad district and later died.

On Friday, a member of the Arab al-Sanadid Forces was shot twice in Tal Jehan near Tal Abyad, ANHA reported. Also on Friday, ANHA reported that two journalists were injured in Tal Abyad.

On Tuesday, at least one HXP conscript was killed and another injured near Tal Abyad and on Sunday, Turkish shelling west of Kobane killed another HXP member.

Earlier in the week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey has completed planning for a new military operation in northern Syria to “destroy” the YPG.

SDF suspends anti-ISIS operation after Turkish attacks on northern Syria

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