Following Defense Secretary James Mattis’ announcement that the US is building observation posts on the Syria-Turkey border, officials are also starting a training program for the Kurdish YPG’s Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The plan is to train 30,000 more SDF fighters, which are being presented as a plan to both combat what ISIS fighters remain and to “contain Iran.” If te training plan is successful, it would bring the SDF to 90,000 fighters.
There are reasons to be skeptical, however, as the US has had several training schemes for groups in Syria in the past, and has tended to produce but tiny fractions of their intended numbers. Even then, those newly-trained fighters have proved to be of limited effectiveness and questionable loyalty.
The plan is also likely to alarm Turkey, as Turkish officials have been public about their intention to seize more Kurdish territory in northeastern Syria. Despite US talk of the SDF going after Iran, the reality is that they are being trained up nowhere near Iranian forces, and right on the Turkish border.