US Troops Now Embedded With Turkish Military in Northern Syria

Special Forces Intended to 'Advise and Assist' in Offensives Against ISIS

An embarrassing incident earlier today in which US special forces arrived in the northern Syrian village of al-Rai and were immediately chased out by longtime ally the Free Syrian Army (FSA) not alone revealed a growing split between the US and this group, but US involvement in Turkey’s recent invasion of Syria.

Pentagon officials are now confirming that, starting today, US special forces are engaged in “advise and assist” operations, embedded with Turkish ground troops at several locations in northern Syria. The Pentagon was vague on how many troops were involved, though they insisted it was a small number.

The US has a few hundred special forces in northern Syria, and previously they were all embedded with the Kurdish YPG. That some are being redeployed to embed with the Turkish forces, who themselves are preparing an offensive against not just ISIS, but the YPG, could quickly leave US troops embedded on both sides of that fight.

For the time being, those troops embedded with the Turkish forces are between Jarabulus and al-Rai, putting them around the ISIS city of al-Bab. It also, however, puts them near the city of Manbij, recently conquered by YPG, and which the Turkish military has threatened to forcibly expel the Kurds from.

The US troops embedded with Turkey’s troops are effectively double-embedded, since the Turkish forces themselves are embedded with “moderate” rebels, like the FSA forces that threatened to slaughter the US troops at al-Rai as infidels this morning. Needless to say, this seems less than ideal for the US troops.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • George Kafantaris

    We need to send more than special forces. Turkey has just proved to the world that ISIS could have been successfully attacked on the ground — and two years ago.

    • lemur

      You may find that Syria is not a part of the United States, so “sending more special forces” is likely to be found based on shaky legal reasoning.

    • Bianca

      We need to stay out. Done already enough harm, arming the sadistic killers and causing untold tragedies. The charade with Turkey is merely to be able to say — we are here with our ally. But Turkey coordinates more with Russia and Iran then with US. When US special forces were under threat from the former Free Syrian Army — now under Turkish control, Turkey did nothing. And in the future, US special forces are at risk on the ground, as they will have no protection. They can stay in Turkish garrisons, but will not be able to put their noses out in the field. This is an end of the road, as Us has nobody on the ground doing its bidding. And now in a fury, attacks Syrian positions, allowing ISIS to advance! And what about the three thousand of ISIS troops that US allowed to leave the town of Manbij — liberated by Kurdish and US forces from ISIS? What was that? Just a means of giving a town to YPG, to ethnically cleanse non-Kurds, while letting ISIS go — free passage.
      This is a squeeze. The less US-controlled groups on the ground, the faster will ISIS be defeated. The example of the string of towns along Turkish border that fell, even before forces arrived. Where are they going to? Raqqa? Turkey has now collected an impressive number of former Free Syrian Army, Turkmen, and other more or less vicious Islamists. They are flocking to Turkish protection as they know that in the end-game, only Turkey can save them from destruction. Thus, they are going to be very helpful to Turkey, and the march towards ISIS is going on. US forces — in this setting — cannot be effective, as all people in Middle East — even those living under a rock, have heard of the coup, and firmly believe that US is responsible. And they will be bigger Turks then Turks.

  • richardstevenhack

    Tell us again how Russia and Iran “agreed” to this… Anyone who thinks this isn’t a “stalking horse” to get a war started with Syria is an IDIOT!