Friday, March 10, 2017

In Syria, our troops try to keep our allies from killing each other. What's the long-term plan? (hunter) · Thursday, March 09, 2017, 4:17 pm

We still don't know what the Trump administration's intentions in Syria are. Are we still supporting the same groups? Are we adopting new policies more in line with Russia's plans for the region? Has our opposition to Assad weakened? We don't know squat, because Donald Trump and his spokespersons were unintelligible on the subject during the campaign and remain almost entirely silent now.

But we've got troops on the ground in Syria, and they're being placed in ever more tenuous situations:

In their first diversion from the task of fighting the Islamic State since the U.S. military’s involvement began in 2014, U.S. troops dispatched to Syria have headed in recent days to the northern town of Manbij, 85 miles northwest of the extremists’ capital, Raqqa, to protect their Kurdish and Arab allies against a threatened assault by other U.S. allies in a Turkish-backed force.
Russian troops have also shown up in Manbij under a separate deal that was negotiated without the input of the United States, according to U.S. officials. Under the deal, Syrian troops are to be deployed in the area, also in some form of peacekeeping role, setting up what is effectively a scramble by the armies of four nations to carve up a collection of mostly empty villages in a remote corner of Syria.

Got that? So we're protecting our allies, the Kurds, from our other allies, backed by Turkey, and Syrian government troops and their Russian backers are marching in, who are the enemies of both. All four are fighting against ISIS. Our military's job is to keep our allies and enemies from targeting each other—but the presence of U.S. troops does not appear to have stopped those skirmishes from happening, and if anyone knows where we go from here they’re not telling.

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