On Saturday, the Pentagon announced another escalation of the war in Syria, saying they are sending another 200 ground troops into the country to take part in the Kurdish invasion of Raqqa. The deployment brings the number of US troops in Syria to around 500.
Unnamed US officials say they’re not too worried about the troops getting attacked by ISIS in the course of invading their capital city, but rather that they see a bigger risk of suffering a military attack by a US ally, Turkey.
Turkey made clear for months they didn’t want the Kurds anywhere near Raqqa, and they have attacked Kurdish forces elsewhere in Syria, including around the city of Afrin. The Turkish government has also made clear they intend to attack the city of Manbij, currently held by Kurdish forces, which is near Raqqa.
Still, Turkey is a NATO member nation, and even if they are comfortable thumbing their nose at the US and picking fights with the Kurds it would be seemingly unthinkable that they would deliberately attack targets with embedded US troops. That the matter is being discussed at all, even by anonymous officials, underscores a worsening US-Turkey relationship.
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