Sunday, March 19, 2017

US troops try to keep Turks and Kurdish troops from clashes in Syria

American forces have been seen in a convoy near the Syrian city of Manbij. In areas west of the city there have been clashes between the Kurdish-linked Manbij Military Council (MMC) and Turkish troops.

This article includes photos of the U.S. troops in a convoy and some flying the U.S. flag. The troops are also shown in the appended video. A U.S. spokesperson said that the action was deliberately aimed at ensuring the Islamic State was defeated. The Pentagon claims the forces were a "visible sign of deterrence". Colonel John Dorrian, spokesperson for the Combined Task Force of Operation Inherent Resolve said in a tweet that deployment of the troop was taken to assure forces within the U.S.-led coalition "deter aggression" and "keep the focus on defeating ISIS" elsewhere. No doubt the hope is that with the Americans present, Turkish troops will not try to take the city of Manjib.
The Turks consider the Kurd troops terrorists and enemies. They are angry that the Americans support them as a key ally in defeating the Islamic State. The MMC published video of the U.S. forces arriving north of Manbij last Friday. A U.S. military official said that the troop deployment did not mean there were more U.S. troops now in Syria.
A spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Erdogan repeated demands for Kurdish military units, the YPG, to leave the city. Turkey is demanding that Kurdish forces stay east of the Euphrates. The Turkiish troops are carrying out what they call Operation Euphrates Shield:Ankara explained that the main objectives of the cross-border military campaign were to maintain border security and confront the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorism, and to deny the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist organisation - as well as its affiliates Syrian PYD/YPG - a fait accompli to create autonomous zones on Turkey's doorstep.
Erdogan warned that the Kurdish troops could be removed by force if they did not comply. The Turks are unlikely to try to dislodge the Kurdish troops with Americans present.
In another move that will annoy Turkey and shows that the Kurds have little interest in challenging the Assad regime, the MMC announced that it struck a deal with Russia that would hand over control of more than 20 villages between Manbij and Al-Bab to the Syrian army. In effect this creates a buffer zone between the Turkish rebels and troops of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The Kurds would rather see Assad forces control the area than the Turks and their allies.
Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said that the U.S. led coalition was well aware of the Russian-supported Syrian forces saying: "They are certainly aware of where we are, and we are aware of where they are. There is no intention between the two of there being any conflict against any party other than ISIS." Given that the Assad troops will be directly in the path of the Turks and their rebel allies if they try to advance south to Manbij there will surely be clashes between them rather than with the Islamic State. The US and its Kurdish allies obviously agree that the priority is not to defeat Assad but the Islamic State even to the point of handing over territory to Assad and Russian allies.
Lt. General Sergei Rudskoy, chief of the Russian General Statt's Main Operational Directorate, confirmed that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had reached agreement with the Assad regime in a deal that Russia had brokered. An analyst at Russia's RIA Novosti, Gevorg Mirzayan suggests that the deal actually is positive for Turkey in that there will be no direct confrontation with the US or the Kurds. However, the Turks will hardly be pleased that territory is simply being handed over to the control of the Assad . The U.S. appears not to have criticized the plan even though the U.S. is supposed to be committed to regime change in Syria. Mirzayan suggests that Russia is very helpfully saving other powers from making disastrous decisions in Syria: "The Kremlin did it a few years ago, when it saved Obama as he was being pushed into a suicidal war against Assad over a provocation involving chemical weapons. Russia found a decision worthy of Solomon, via the removal of these weapons of mass destruction from Syria." This time he argues that Russia has prevented Turkey from an all-out war against the Syrian Kurds that could drag in the Americans. There is perhaps some plausibility to the analysis but Turkey is unlikely to feel much gratitude towards the Russians for their actions or to the Americans for not resisting the deal.


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Sindhuja Ravi said...
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