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.