Turkey Targets Manbij – an Area of Syria Where US Forces Operate

 In Foreign, Military

Turkey’s leader, Tayyip Erdogan, stated that they will begin targeting the area around Manbij in Syria to eradicate the terrorists. Problem? US forces, along with the Syrian Democratic Forces, operate out of that area. The SDF contains elements of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG).

Both Turkey and the United States list the Kurdish PKK as terrorists. The US does not view the Kurdish parts of the SDF as the same group. But because Turkey views them all the same, things tend to get convoluted. Since the US announced the creation of a 30,000 member border security force, Turkey decided we were building a “terror army” and decided to remove the “terrorists.”

Turkey has been attacking Afrin, a Kurdish area in Syria of  at least a million people, claiming that they killed “343 terrorists.” Now they have refocused their shelling toward Manbij, where US backed SDF forces generally operate.

“We are concerned about the situation in northwest Syria, and the potential effect that these operations could have on operations to defeat Daesh in eastern Syria. We call on all parties to remain focused on defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria, de-escalating and resolving the Syrian conflict and protecting innocent civilians…” Col. Ryan Dillon

President Trump spoke to Erdogan on Wednesday, and urged him to use restraint. Of course Erdogan had a different view of the conversation. The Turkish president  claims that terrorists are “running around with American Flags.”

The situation could result in direct conflicts between forces that are supposed to be on the same side, which is something our forces are genuinely concerned about. They already have to take care to “deconflict” situations with Russia…adding Turkey to the mix has been an issue. The US does have protocols to “de-escalate” conflicts with Turkish forces, but Col Dillon would not elaborate on those, according to Military Times.

“We continue to deconflict air and ground operations with Russians, daily, to ensure we can continue to safely support our partner force [as they] pursue remaining ISIS elements in Syria, namely along the eastern side of the Euphrates River… [U.S. forces] take seriously Turkey’s legitimate security concerns and remain committed to working with Turkey as a Coalition member to defeat Daesh.” Col Ryan Dillon

In all that political rhetoric, the fact remains that US advisers are in harm’s way because Turkey wants to eradicate the Kurds they view as terrorists, a group which has been exceedingly helpful in taking back territory from ISIS.

Featured Photo- screenshot of Turkish airstrike in Afrin, Syria

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