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Syria Daily: US Puts More Troops Into North

Syria Daily: US Puts More Troops Into North
March 10
06:19 2017

Amid multi-sided conflict in northern Syria, US put in 500 more troops


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The US has put more troops into northern Syria to support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, both in a prospective offensive against the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa and to hold a line against a Turkish-rebel advance in Aleppo Province.

Officially the 400 additional troops, including Marines and Army Rangers, will provide artillery support for the assault on Raqqa, ISIS’s main position in Syria.

A US military spokesman, Air Force Colonel John Dorrian, said on Thursday:

We have had what I would describe as a pretty relentless air campaign to destroy enemy capabilities and to kill enemy fighters in that area already. That is something that we are going to continue and intensify with this new capability.

However, some of the US troops — now totalling about 900 — are deploying near SDF-held Manbij, 85 miles northwest of the Raqqa. Those forces will help a line facing a Turkish-rebel offensive which has pushed back the Islamic State in Aleppo Province since last August, capturing the city of al-Bab in late February.

Convoys of U.S. troops, including Stryker armored vehicles and Humvees, heading through the northern Syrian countryside trailing big Stars and Stripes flags. Publicity for the move, including photographs and videos, appeared to be designed to deter further clashes between the SDF and Turkish-rebel units.

Turkey wants to push the Kurdish militia YPG, which leads the SDF, out of Manbij and east of the Euphrates River. It had pressed the US to encourage the withdrawal, but that political initiative appeared to be dormant with the incoming Trump Administration.

Instead, the US has effectively allied with Russia for the first time. The Russians have also put in forces near Manbij, although Washington officially maintains that it was involved with the move.

In a further twist, the SDF has handed over several villages west of Manbij to an advancing pro-Assad offensive, creating the first de facto arrangement involving the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Party (PYD) and the YPG, the Assad regime, Russia, and the US.

Turkey says the PYD and YPG are linked to the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, which has fought Ankara’s forces for more than 30 years. The US officially says that Arab units and not the YPG comprise the SDF in Manbij and other positions west of the Euphrates.

The Turkish military claimed on Thursday that its operations with rebels have killed 71 YPG fighters over the past week.

Turkey launched an operation to drive Islamic State away from its border with Syria in August, and has said that it would strike the U.S.-backed YPG if necessary to prevent them seizing territory there.

Turkey has long demanded that the YPG move out of the Syrian town of Manbij to the eastern side of the Euphrates river. Ankara sees the militants as a terrorist group allied to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decades-old insurgency in southeast Turkey.

The tension has affected plans for the Raqqa offensive. The first Turkish-Russian-US meeting of military commanders, held in southeast Turkey this week, ended with Ankara criticizing the continued US support of the PYD and YPG and repeating that no Kurdish forces should be involved in operations.

Officials said that the Trump Administration is divided over next steps. Some staff are pressing for a re-evaluation of the links with the YPG to assuage Erdoğan. Others want the U.S. to work with Kurdish forces to take Raqqa, and then hand control of the city over to a local council linked to the SDF and sympathetic to the Assad regime and Russia.

“There’s not anything near an agreement or a plan,” said a “senior U.S. military official”. “It’s up to the White House.”

A “senior Administration official” summarized, “Everything is red hot.”

Head of US Central Commmand: More Troops Should Be Deployed

The head of US Central Command, Genera; Joseph Votel, told a Senate committee hearing on Thursday that even more US troops should be deployed.

Votel told the Armed Services Committee that is looking for options to ease the tensions with Turkey, but he offered no details.

TOP PHOTO: US armored vehicles deploying near Manbij in northern Syria this week


Israel’s Netanyahu Presses Putin Over Iranian Presence

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure that Iran’s presence in Syria is limited, keeping Iranian-led forces away from Israel’s border.

Netanyahu visited Putin on Thursday, with Israeli media repeating the line that had been out before the trip to Moscow.

However, The Times of Israel says Putin chided Netanyahu over the Prime Minister’s repeated warnings:

“Today there is an attempt by Persia’s heir, Iran, to destroy the state of the Jews,” Netanyahu said. “They say this as clearly as possible and inscribe it on their ballistic missiles.”

Adopting a conciliatory tone, Putin said that the events described by Netanyahu [linked to this week’s Jewish celebration of Purim] had taken place “in the fifth century BC”.

“We now live in a different world. Let us talk about that now,” Putin said.

Just before Russia’s massive military intervention behind the Assad regime in September 2015, Netanyahu sought assurances that Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other Iranian-linked forces stayed away from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The Israel Defense Forces have also carried out a series of operations to contain Hezbollah, including the bombing of warehouses and convoys with weapons for the Lebanese groups, as well as responding to mortar and rocket fire near the border with the Golan Heights.

In a week of high-level maneuvers, especially the situation in northern Syria (see above), Putin is hosting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today.

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About Author

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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15 Comments

  1. Barbar
    Barbar March 10, 07:58

    Tayyip will be gnawing his thumbs in rage and frustration this morning … I predict a mob invasion of Incirlik Airbase by the afternoon, to lynch the Yanki soldateska on their flagpole. Or maybe it will just be sealed off from outside with water [thank you K9] and electricity cut, the airspace closed by Turkish AF, like last time, with the implicit threat of confiscating the dozens of precious Yanki nukes stashed there in just recompense for their sins? So many creative ways to deal with one’s back-stabbing ‘allies’ these days …

    Reply to this comment
    • Kazemi
      Kazemi March 10, 18:17

      The Turks don’t have access to the nuke codes – so you may relax. I wonder who has been backstabbing whom. Like when US needed Turkish assistance in 2003 to overthrow Saddam? That vermin Erdo’an is just another 3rd rate Muslim MENA dictator, a dime a dozen, and he doesn’t even hide it. The Russians are better off staying away from this slimeball and not get fooled by his overtures. Only a fool will want to deal with an Islamist with visions of grandeur and majestic destiny.

      Reply to this comment
      • Barbar
        Barbar March 11, 06:31

        The Turks don’t have access to the nuke codes” — LOL, this is like the GPS-MANPAD myth all over again … you have this faith that Exceptionalistan’s tech is so far beyond the ken of mere mortal Untermenschen as to be unhackable … whereas in reality, if seriously putting their minds to it, Tayyip’s reverse-engineers should have the B61’s PAL shorted out and the weapon functional within [to err on the side of caution let’s say] a month, or much faster with a friendly technical nudge in the form of alternative firing circuits from Iran/North Korea in exchange for a mere half dozen exemplars for their own private collections, or quicker yet if the gifted Yankis have back-doored their own shit out the wazoo as usual:
        https://web.archive.org/web/20120511191600/http://www.cdi.org/blair/permissive-action-links.cfm

        Reply to this comment
      • Andre De Angelis
        Andre De Angelis March 11, 06:57

        Like when US needed Turkish assistance in 2003 to overthrow Saddam?

        Are you seriously suggesting that Turkey was in the wrong and the US had a right to attack, invade and occupt Iraq in 2003 with a war based on lies?

        Reply to this comment
        • Barbar
          Barbar March 11, 09:14

          Mais, quelle question, The violent contempt of man-child NeoCon acolytes for international law is matched only by their proud boundless ignorance, for example, in this case, of the fact that Tayyip [after the bribe flashed at him by Token Powell] was *all for* supporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq and was beaverishly plotting to occupy the North [including Mosul] with his own troops in order to strangle the incipient Iraqi Kurdistan in its crib and nab a healthy slice of the oil pie for his troubles when foiled at the last minute only by the Ankara Parliament cranking up a large bird to the Yanki commands and instead voting per the popular will to cock-block the slavering ‘Coalition of the Willing’ rapists.
          .
          But the statement is doubly dumb as “exceptional” Yankistan obviously didn’t needthe assistance of anyone* in order to shoot its own geopolitical feet off, greatly strengthening the AQ ideology by its illegal invasions and madcap spree of serial warcrimes, before ultimately handing the fabulous wealth of the incompetently-robbed Iraq over to their even more hated enemy Iran, so to speak on a platter of congealed blood from its wasted cannon-fodder engraved with the whimsical motto “Thank you for your service!“.
          .
          [* except maybe the fanatical Closet-Catholic Crusader, Blair, who, when later cornered and being the gutless shyster liar that he is, pinned all the blame for his wanton warcrimes of aggression on his infallible God for speaking in inciteful tongues inside his head. This audacious latter-day clerico-fascist manœuvre, now known as the Blair’s Gambit, so impressed his role model Kissinger that Bush’s faithful manservant was rewarded on Earth with the richly ironic position of ‘Quartet Peace Envoy for the Middle East’ and a personal [pre-emptive, natch] blessing from the CIA’s first Polish Pope, a.k.a. the Krakówian Candidate, who was soon thereafter in turn elevated to the lesser Godhood for services rendered unto the ÜberVicar of Christ, namely Yanki Imperialism.]

          Reply to this comment
          • hayri kostakli
            hayri kostakli March 11, 13:35

            barbar is right about this one. back than erdogan was supporting the agreement with the us. Ironically kamalists were against it at that time. what is questionable is did the us really want turkish presence in n. iraq? Imho they wanted to use turkish soil but didn’t want turkish soldiers go into iraq with them.

            Reply to this comment
            • Barbar
              Barbar March 11, 18:50

              As demonstrated by the ‘Hood Event’ treatment of an infiltrating Turkish assassination squad captured in N.Iraq by the Yankis and subjected to sensory deprivation as if being readied for a trip to Guantánamo in July 2003, they were *not* welcome to muscle in on the Pentagovernment’s oil piracy project:
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hood_event
              .
              This incident marked the end of die-hard democrat Tayyip’s belated attempts to do an end-run around his own Parliament and militarily occupy N.Iraq anyhow, after creating a suitable pretext. However, being something of a new broom at the time he had neglected protocol and failed to clear this personal invasion plot with his Yanki masters, thus had to be publicly humiliated with a spanking — Braincell Bremer, blessed with the ‘exceptional’ irony deficit, went so far as to blurt out for the occasion that he “was concerned about external interference in Iraqi affairs“:
              https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/jul/08/turkey.michaelhoward
              .
              Back in the homeland this horrendous affront to Turkish national dignity was converted into an amusing and extremely popular action film, Kurtlar Vadisi: Irak [2006], in which the righteous celluloid secret agents of Tayyip exact their terrible vengeance upon the perfidious Yanki butchers and their Jewish henchmen who are harvesting the organs of the oppressed Iraqis:
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_of_the_Wolves:_Iraq

              Reply to this comment
              • hayri kostakli
                hayri kostakli March 12, 10:25

                Well barbar obviously you know a lot more than kazemi about turkey but you are mixing things up. The TR parliament didn’t vote against erdogan interfering with n. iraq. It is unimaginable to think TR parliament to disallow erdogan acting for turkey’s security and interests. Parliament just said no to US soldiers to be stationed in Turkey to attack Iraq.

  2. caligola
    caligola March 10, 09:08

    Erdo dont seem to think it your way at all. Appart the daily SAA prisoners taken around al bab by ES yesterday Turkish artillery had a field day against the SAA which is supposed to sub itself to the SDF on Manjib front. Manjib is the target for the turks.
    Enjoy…
    https://mobile.twitter.com/worldonalert/status/839955172285616128

    Reply to this comment
  3. datepalm
    datepalm March 10, 10:10

    “the first de facto arrangement involving the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Party (PYD) and the YPG, the Assad regime, Russia, and the US.”
    .
    Well that’s a surprise. Not.
    .
    Of course, Isis is not the real objective behind the US deployment. The real goal is freezing the conflict between the regime and the rebels and implementing the Geneva accords to keep the regime in power. Isis, as ever, just gives cover for the US. They will put more troops in over the coming months, perhaps even over the next few years.
    .
    US troops will eventually find themselves replacing the role of the Russians and Iranians. Expect US casualties, far away from any Isis areas, both from friendly fire and from trying to take over rebel areas.
    .
    I don’t know if too many Americans are going to be happy sacrificing soldiers to keep Assad on his throne but that’s what they’re going to see.

    Reply to this comment
    • Kazemi
      Kazemi March 10, 18:30

      Not to worry. Trump is not in a mood to control Syria and pour money down the drain. For one thing Syria has nothing to offer the west, but only to Assad and the Iranians and their lackey – and Assad is no friend of the US and with the help of Russia and Iran will not tolerate any serious US presence. If US had any intention to “take over areas”, that would have happened starting back in 2011 with the help of the rebels.

      Reply to this comment
      • Barbar
        Barbar March 11, 09:42

        Syria has nothing to offer the west” — If by this you mean nothing worth the serial warcriminals’ effort to rob and plunder, then yes, compared to the potentially lucrative but badly-botched rape of Iraq that is relatively true. Nevertheless, it did not inhibit the recidivist warcrims from pursuing their badly-botched proxy war against Syria for the most banal of evil reasons, i.e. that they regularly require a defenceless target for their heroic aggression to distract the Stimmvieh from rising in rebellion on the HomeFront and so that HillDawg in her insatiable lust for power could secure the Netanyahudnik Gold Seal of Approval upon her run for President.
        .
        i.e. while Syria may have had very little to offer it still was considered handy enough for the mass-murderous imperialist cynics to use as a cheap prop en passant, while preaching their unimpeachable ’humanitarian altruism’ at the millions of victims casually created along the way.

        Reply to this comment
  4. caligola
    caligola March 10, 14:00

    Seems SAA has taken a serious beating last night from the Turks and vanished from were they came from leaving kurds crying……

    https://mobile.twitter.com/worldonalert/status/840172929228898304

    Reply to this comment
  5. K9
    K9 March 10, 21:40

    #National: This is interesting “Aleppo branch of #Syria-n Ba’ath Party leaked document from Jan 13 calls for terror attacks to influence April 16 referendum in #Turkey” – badly_xeroxed
    .
    Regime scum being scum, I wonder whether the Turkish military teach the regime a lesson by snatching Mount Kessab.
    .
    #Latakia: “#Russian warplanes made intense airstrikes on the #Kabana area of #Turkmen_Mountain.” – CombatChris1
    .
    I wonder how close rebels in Latakia are to Hmmeeim airbase? Is it within light artillery shelling distance?
    .
    #Damascus: “Jaish Al-Islam blasted more Regime fortifications.” – QalaatAlMudiq
    .
    This is what rebels everywhere (ie Hama/Aleppo/Deraa) should be doing everyday
    .
    #Deraa: “Al-Bunian Al-Marsous op. room announces the destruction of a Shilka in Al-Manshiyah & crew KIA.” – QalaatAlMudiq
    .
    I wonder whether rebels in Deraa will start using weaponised drones (along with drone-guided mortar shelling?) to target Deraa airbase as well as the regime bases north of Naimah and in the areas north of Deraa city? Furthermore isn’t there a reservoir west of Deraa that rebels control? Can’t rebels destroy that so they can flood (if the areas rebel control is on higher ground then the regime’s?) the regime parts of the city?

    Reply to this comment

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