In an effort to placate Turkey, the Pentagon has confirmed today that they carried out airstrikes against the Syrian city of al-Bab today, destroying an ISIS armored personnel carrier in an attack the believed was in “the mutual interest” of both the US and Turkey.
Turkey has been attempting to occupy al-Bab for over a month, and it has become an increasingly sore spot in the US-Turkey relation, when Turkey requested US air support and the US responded by flying a single plane over the city as a “show of force.”
Turkey expressed annoyance at this lack of support, and threatened to expel the US from Incirlik Air Base, abandoning their request for US strikes when Russia started carrying out airstrikes against al-Bab instead. By last week, the US insisted it was “doing more,” but that just meant flying a few more planes over the city, and at the time officials insisted it was unlikely they’d launch airstrikes, since they don’t usual operate in areas Russia is already bombing.
The risk of losing Incirlik Air Base, as well as being publicly outdone by Russia with respect to a NATO ally like Turkey appears to have ultimately convinced the US to carry out at least some airstrikes against al-Bab, though whether this shifts the situation on the ground is anyone’s guess, as ISIS has been surprisingly resilient in the relatively small city, their last major holding in Aleppo Province.