Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria last week added dramatically to the complexity of America’s involvement in the Syrian War, which already saw a substantial number of different “US-backed” groups that are at one another’s throats grow substantially with the introduction of Turkish military forces in close proximity to the Kurdish YPG.
While Turkey, and their affiliated militias, captured the ISIS city of Jarabulus at the border, it wasn’t long before they were sacking Kurdish villages and engaging in direct fighting with the YPG over territory along the Euphrates River. Turkish officials have made no bones about this being the primary goal of the campaign.
Pentagon officials came into Turkey’s invasion trying to be supportive, launching a few airstrikes to support the incursion and demanding the Kurds cede some territory. Now, however, they’re just insisting the clashes are “unacceptable” and demanding that everyone “stand down immediately.”
With the US not wanting to make an enemy of either side, however, the demands are ringing pretty hollow, and no one seems to be prepared to stand down. Turkey still insists they intend to take everything west of the Euphrates away from the Kurds, and the Kurds are still preparing to defend territory the US recently helped them capture from being overrun by the Turkish military.
The Pentagon insists the focus needs to be purely on ISIS, which ironically they weren’t interested in earlier this month when the same Kurdish YPG forces started attacking the Syrian military in Hasakeh. The YPG is giving lip-service to this idea, but the reality is that as Turkey’s gains mount the YPG will have less and less border with ISIS to fight in the first place.