(Washington Examiner) The battle between U.S.-backed forces and Islamic State fighters is still raging in Syria’s Middle Euphrates River Valley, but not much ground is changing hands.
Just as the forces, which include Kurdish fighters, are poised to finish off the last remnants of ISIS, Turkey torpedoed the final push with its own offensive against Syrian Kurds in the northwest border region.
Turkey’s two-month old offensive has drawn more than 1,000 Kurdish fighters, and more importantly their leaders, away from the battle against ISIS.
The result is for now, and until an accommodation can be reached with Syria, the campaign against ISIS that had been making steady progress has stalled.
“It has slowed the pace of our advance,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said at a Pentagon briefing Thursday. “I would not say that ISIS is gaining any momentum, but I would instead say the inevitable conclusion of this has been slowed by the fact that not so much rank and file, but some leadership has moved back up to the north.”
The Pentagon says a large number of Kurdish fighters, who were on the front lines battling ISIS in the eastern part of the country, have gone west to defend their homes in the Afrin region in the west.