McCain warns Pentagon of Turkey-YPG conflict in Syria

Posted March 10, 2017

Gen. Dunford, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was invited to attend the summit by the Turkish military, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and key USA counterterrorism partner.

The SDF, seen by the Washington as the most effective anti-jihadist fighting force in Syria, is dominated by Kurdish fighters condemned by Ankara as "terrorists".

To make things even more complex, the Kurdish-backed forces (which, remember, don't get along with Turkey and their forces) have recently agreed to let the Syrian regime move into their territory to create a buffer between them and Turkish-backed forces. With the U.S. -Russian presence outside the city, the Turks seem to be backing down.

"It makes no sense to launch an operation in Manbij without the cooperation of Russian Federation and the United States", Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a televised interview. A Pentagon official said, yesterday, that the US troops are in Manbij to "reassure and deter". He did not mention Turkey, but the Turkish government has insisted that Kurds are still in Manbij and that it intends to eject them by force if necessary. Photos showing Russian troops reportedly around Manbij with SDF badges were released via social media as if to give the "We are here, no traffic accidents, remember" message.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a terse statement that the military chiefs talked about "the current situation in the fight against terrorist organizations in Syria in the context of raising the efficiency of confronting all terrorist organizations in the future".

In January, the SDF was provided by the USA with armored vehicles for the first time ahead of the planned Raqqa offensive.

In their first diversion from the task of fighting the Islamic State since the US military's involvement began in 2014, USA troops dispatched to Syria have headed in recent days to the northern town of Manbij, 85 miles northwest of the extremists' capital, Raqqa, to protect their Kurdish and Arab allies against a threatened assault by other US allies in a Turkish backed force.

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The deployment does not appear to signal a departure from Obama administration's policy of relying on Syrian Kurds and their Arab cohorts to fight the Islamic State in Syria, he said.

The talks, announced by Turkey, come amid rising tensions in northern Syria, where Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters, US -backed Kurdish-led forces and Russian-allied Syrian troops are fighting their way toward the IS group's de facto capital, Raqqa.

Chiefs of the Turkish, Russian and US militaries met on Tuesday in Antalya, Turkey, to discuss the developments in Syria and Iraq.

That followed an agreement with Russian Federation to pre-empt an attempt by Turkish-led forces to take Manbij, Reuters reported. No comment could immediately be obtained from Turkish government officials.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addressing a campaign rally in the Turkish capital Ankara, reiterated his readiness to confront the Kurdish forces.

Top Turkish officials have said time and again that towns the Turkish troops capture on the Syrian soil will be handed over to local people rather than the Syrian government forces. But the USA views the Kurds as an essential element of the battle against the radical Sunni group that's waged a global campaign of terrorist attacks from its self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Mercy Corps strongly denies the charges and says it is a strictly non-political group.