Syria: US to send 150 troops to support Turkey


The United States is preparing to send about 150 troops to north-eastern Syria to conduct joint patrols with Turkish troops, according to a report released Thursday.

The New York Times (NYT) was the first to announce plans for the Pentagon, which would be a further step for Washington to strengthen the partnership with Turkey and reassure Turkey of its repeated concerns about ongoing US support to the United States. People's Protection (YPG), the Syrian terrorist group subsidiary of the PKK.

Ankara has long been opposed to US support for the YPG, a group terrorizing locals and posing a threat to Turkey. The PKK has killed more than 40,000 people in Turkey – including women, children and young children – during its decades-long terrorist campaign.

Cooperation between the United States and Turkey in Syria has recently intensified after the two countries agreed on August 7 to establish a security zone east of the Euphrates River in northern Uganda. Syria.

The Safe Areas Agreement provides for the necessary security measures to address Turkey's security concerns, including the elimination of the terrorist zone where the YPG is cut off.

It also includes measures to create a safe and stable living space for Syrian refugees returning from Turkey. Turkish officials repeatedly claimed that another wave of refugees was quite possible, due to repeated attacks by the regime, particularly in Idlib, northwestern Syria.

Turkey, which currently hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians, is currently the largest refugee host country in the world; it plans to resettle about a million of them in the peace corridor to be established in northern Syria.

The United States currently has a total of about 1,000 troops in Syria, mainly in partnership with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group led by the YPG with which they allegedly have partnered to fight Daesh.

In December, US President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of US troops in Syria, but the Pentagon's latest plans could signal a turnaround. The final approval of the deployment is awaiting the success of joint land patrols with Turkey in the coming days, military officials told the Times.

US military and diplomatic officials refused the NYT's request to comment on the possible deployment.

Last month, a senior administrative official told the NYT that Washington " provide the necessary forces " for joint patrols in northeastern Syria, noting that a few dozen soldiers were already conducting similar patrols with Turkish soldiers in Manbij. But the official did not know whether the forces provided would increase the total number of US troops in Syria or simply replace the troops returned home after activities conducted in partnership with the SDF.

The Turkish and US armed forces began their fourth joint helicopter flight on Thursday in the planned security zone east of the Euphrates in northern Syria.

A day earlier, Turkish and US military delegations visited the new joint operations center at the Akçakale border town in Şanlıurfa, in southeastern Turkey. The US delegation was led by Lieutenant General Stephen M. Twitty, Commander-in-Chief of the European Command of the United States (EUCOM), and Lieutenant-General Thomas W. Bergeson, Deputy Commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) ). They also inspected the Syrian border after a meeting with the Turkish General Staff the day before.

The US and Turkish authorities have cautiously welcomed the actions of the week, while stressing that more substantial measures would be needed to make significant progress.

Senior Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, have pointed out that Turkey and the United States are not on the same wavelength despite the agreements.

Brett McGurk, a former US special envoy to the anti-Daesh coalition in Syria, expressed the same skepticism in an email to the New York Times: " This is a commendable diplomatic initiative but must be adequately resourced. As with most things concerning Syria these dayswe seem to have more and more political objectives under the aegis of a president who wants to reduce resources and leave things as they are. When goals and means do not align, a failure is often unavoidable.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sunday that Turkey could launch its own operation soon, if the United States does not take any concrete action by the end of September.

Turkey has successfully launched several military offensives in northern Syria, such as Operation Rameau d'Olivier and Operation Euphrates Shield, to eliminate terrorists along the border, including the YPG and Daesh, another unilateral intervention east of the Euphrates also remaining very likely.

The possibility of unilateral intervention stems from Turkey's skepticism of the United States, which has often sided with PKK-affiliated groups instead of responding to its security ally's concerns. , its ally in NATO.

Before the security zone agreement was reached, Turkey and the United States had agreed on a road map in June 2018, providing for the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij in northern Syria. and the launch of joint Turkish-American patrols, which finally began last November. However, the process had been very slow, with the terrorist group still present in the city despite the initial three-month deadline for implementing the agreement.

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