Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis revealed that the US intends to build a number of new military “observation outposts” on the Turkey-Syria border. The posts will be inside Syrian territory, where the Kurdish forces are based.
The intention is to reduce tensions between the Turkish government and the Kurdish YPG. Mattis says that the US would be able to “call the Turks and warn them if we see something coming out of an area we’re operating in.”
In theory, this is to be understood as warning if the YPG (who the Turks consider terrorists) are attacking Turkey. In practice, Turkey has tended to carry out most of the attacks, however, which means the US posts may be taken as intended to give the Kurds advance notice.
While the US has made several efforts to limit the risks of conflict between the YPG and the Turkish military, both sides are broadly hostile toward one another. If anything, this reflects US intentions to have more facilities, and a more or less permanent set of outposts in Syria.