Two days after the Turkish military and allied jihadist forces took control of the Kurdish city of Afrin in northwestern Syria, Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists launched a major attack on Syrian regime forces in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor. The ISIS terrorists killed at least 25 soldiers and seized a large oil field. Around the same time, ISIS militants captured a strategic district in the suburb of Syria’s capital, Damascus, where they killed more than 60 government troops.
These two recent advances signal a possible return by the extremist group that only months ago was thought to be largely defeated.
Since Turkey, a NATO ally, launched its Afrin offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — a main U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS — U.S. officials have been warning that the fighting between two U.S. allies is distracting from the main mission, which is defeating ISIS.
“We are very concerned about the effect fighting there has had on our defeat ISIS efforts and would like to see an end to the hostilities before ISIS has the opportunity to regroup in eastern Syria,” said Pentagon spokesman U.S. Army Colonel Rob Manning, referring to the Turkish offensive against Kurds in Afrin.
The U.S. State Department is already convinced that the terror group has been rebuilding itself in some places in Syria.