Ilya TsukanovAll materialsWrite to the authorThe Turkish Army and US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters exchanged heavy fire in the northern Syrian border town of Kobane in August. Ankara threatened to launch a new incursion into Syria against the fighters, which it classifies as “terrorists,” in May. US aid for the SDF has been a major irritant in Turkish-US relations.The United States has been training SDF fighters and militants from the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria, as little as a few kilometers from the border with Turkey, with the drills including maneuvers involving the use of Javelin anti-tank missiles, Milliyet has reported.The Turkish newspaper recalled that just three days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to launch a new military operation in Syria in late May, AFP published photos of a US convoy patrolling in Rumeylan, an oil-rich region east of Hasakah, Syria, presumably as a message to Ankara not to intervene. Russia also called on Turkey to avoid an escalation at the time, while Syria warned that it could respond militarily.Turkey, according to the newspaper, wants to establish a security buffer in Syria stretching from Manbij to the west to Qamishli in the east, with the latter under the control of the SDF. Only the area between Ras al-Ayn and Tell Abyad are controlled by the “Syrian opposition supported by Turkey,” Milliyet noted (Syria considers those “Syrian opposition” forces terrorists).In July, Erdogan called on US forces to stop training the “terrorist” militias and demanded that Washington leave Syria. “America has to leave areas east of the Euphrates now. This is an outcome that came out of the Astana process,” Erdogan said, referring to the Astana Format peace negotiations headed up by Russia, Iran and Turkey.Weeks later, Milliyet recalled the US troops had once again been spotted operating along the Turkish border, this time in Qamishli, northeast Syria.This week, an AFP photojournalist again spotted US forces training Kurdish forces near al-Malikiyah, Syria, this time with Bradley and MRAP armored vehicles and Javelin and AT4 anti-tank missiles.
US soldiers stand near a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) military vehicle as they attend a joint military exercise between forces of the US-led “Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve” coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the countryside of the town of al-Malikiya (Derik in Kurdish) in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province on September 7, 2022Milliyet emphasized out that although the Pentagon has long justified its presence in Syria through “concerns over the resurgence of Daesh (ISIS)*”, the terrorist group has been heavily weakened, and is not known to have a single operational tank in its arsenal.
Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gather near a US Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) during a joint military exercise with forces of the US-led “Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve” coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group in the countryside of the town of al-Malikiya (Derik in Kurdish) in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province on September 7, 2022
A fighter of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fires the turret of a technical vehicle during a joint exercise with forces of the US-led “Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve” coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group in the countryside of the town of al-Malikiya (Derik in Kurdish) in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province on September 7, 2022The United States and Turkey have occupied vast areas of northern and northeastern Syria since 2016. While Ankara has justified its actions citing the fight against Daesh and Kurdish “terrorists,” Washington has justified its occupation via the ‘battle against Daesh’ and the need to help Syrian Kurdish forces against the terrorist group. In 2019 and 2020, to the State Department’s horror, President Trump admittedly repeated that the “only reason” he was keeping troops in Syria was to “take” and “keep the oil.” The Biden administration ‘corrected’ this optics blunder after President Biden took office.Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies have repeatedly called on all foreign countries and military forces operating in the country without Damascus’s consent to leave the country immediately, in accordance with international law.Recent weeks have seen a series of reports on the inklings of a possible rapprochement between Syria and Turkey. Last month, Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported that presidents Assad and Erdogan might meet at the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan – which will take place next Thursday. This week, French media reported that Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk and his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan had held a meeting mediated by Russia. US Washington beltway press has also reported on the possible “normalization” of ties between Damascus and Ankara, “explaining” why it would be a bad idea for Turkey.* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.