Updates on Syria v. Turkey

| October 14, 2019

Last week, Turkey fired on US forces posted in northern Syria: https://www.militarytimes.com/2019/10/13/us-troops-believe-turkey-deliberately-fired-artillery-at-an-american-commando-outpost-in-syria/

American troops and former U.S. officials believe a Turkish artillery strike on Friday that landed about 300 meters from a U.S. commando outpost near the Syrian city of Kobani was done deliberately.

No U.S. troops were injured in the strike, but U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said American commandos temporarily withdrew from their observation post on Mishtanur hill near Kobani and returned on Saturday.  – article

Meantime, the Kurdish Defense Forces (KDF/Peshmerga) have begun to join with Syrian troops to defend northern Syria.

Since Turkey knows the locations of US troops, right down to the grid square, it’s a sensible move to remove our troops from the position of sitting ducks.  It does not excuse Turkey, a NATO ally of the USA, for firing on a US-held position. https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/10/13/esper-says-us-staying-in-syria-but-withdrawing-south-of-turkish-advance-and-deal-in-works-to-have-russians-protect-kurds/

As of now, the US is withdrawing to southern Syria, while Syrian forces, with the KDF assisting, are defending their turf in northern Syria.  https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/10/14/syrian-army-moves-to-confront-turkish-forces-as-us-withdraws/

There is no indication that we are completely abandoning either Syira or the KDF. In fact, we are continuing with patrols in search of Daesh (ISIS) remnants. https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/flashpoints/2019/10/12/us-forces-are-still-conducting-ground-and-air-patrols-in-syria-despite-turkish-incursion/

U.S. forces in Syria are still conducting ground and air patrols in Syria, according to a coalition U.S. military official.

The patrols continue despite reports of a temporary pause in anti-ISIS operations in the country as Turkish forces continue to advance against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.

The coalition official told Military Times that the patrols are necessary for the “security” of coalition forces in Syria.

The U.S. coalition official, who provided a statement to Military Times on condition of anonymity, said the patrols were not “directly associated with any activity related to tension along the border.”

“The ground patrols specifically avoid areas that have active combat operations. Coalition troops remain in Syria to defeat Daesh (ISIS) remnants,” the official said. – article

This has been progressing in this direction for some time, but such things are slow moving and completing them is frequently more prolonged than anticipated. A summary of what is going on might be more useful than handing it out piecemeal, especially since the sources of these reports have obviously been providing more details as time went by.

This is the progress of events to date, with one thing piled on top of another.  There are arrangements being made now to get the Russians to help the Kurds, as noted above. They are not being abandoned, despite the narrow-minded misunderstandings of the general public and especially some other people who get only the gist of the story, but refuse to get the full story as it conflicts with their opinion. I have known quite well for some time now that there is far more to this than just the US withdrawing, but I like to wait to have as much info as I can find before I just jump in there and post something.


Category: Foreign Policy, International Affairs

Comments (31)

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  1. Ret_25X says:

    What happens between Turkey and the PKK aligned Kurdish militias is a matter of profound indifference to actual people around the world…

  2. Graybeard says:

    IMHO, the Turks are like a vicious dog, and should not be allowed in the NATO backyard.

    If I had a dog like that a .22LR would be applied

  3. LC says:

    They are not being abandoned, despite the narrow-minded misunderstandings of the general public and especially some other people who get only the gist of the story, but refuse to get the full story as it conflicts with their opinion.

    As a corollary to ‘the enemy gets a vote’, I’m putting forth, ‘the ally gets a say’, and the leader of the SDF said “You are leaving us to be slaughtered”, but c’mon, what does that guy know?
    Link: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/12/politics/syrian-kurds-us-turkey-military-operation/index.html

    Another member of the general public, who also happens to be a retired 4-star general in the Marines and former commander of US forces in Afghanistan was also in the news for being less than enthused about this:

    And why have one Marine General when you can have two? Mattis says we can expect a resurgent ISIS now:

    Finally, Brett McGurk, who knows a little about that whole ‘ISIS’ thing, says these actions provided a gift to Russia, Iran and ISIS.

    But hey, those guys are probably not getting the full story like you are.


    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      What was the plan to defeat the enemy?

      Not seeing it.

      No plan to conquer Syria.

      No plan to conquer Turkey.

      Islamic State was effectively gone, but that virus, under many names is endemic in the region.

      I mean, was Victory even a thing? Or just “stick around, killing and dying, and wait for sanity to occur” ?

      First, tell me what Victory will be, then tell me what we need to get it, then ask me to spill our blood and treasure in yet another mideast abbitoir.

      Not sure we have any allies there. Co-belligerants of convenience? Sure.

      “Raid” is how to handle the problems there. Identify the annoying asshole dejure. Kick their asses so hard their ears waggle when they fart. Leave. Any need for a repeat rises to the level of “did they spare anyone?”.

      Let they pray that we never notice them again.

      And otherwise stay the bleep out of that whole insane region.

      Even Patton was bitten by the “endless war” bug. But at least he wanted endless Victory. So I tend to discount modern Generals. They are, after all, political critters. Any that came up under the prior administration are particularly suspect. Any that successfully spanned the last two or three admins? How does that work, exactly?

      Much as Trump’s choice seems shitty, it seems the least shitty option. We stayed too long, again. There was no real Victory plan, again. It is just another way for our major enemies to bleed us out, and ruin our armed forces.

      And I have to wonder at who wants us to stick around to no real gain. They ought to know better. I am assuming they just don’t see it.

      Trump may be the only player in the game that sees what is actually going on. “Why the hell do we keep slapping this Turd-Baby?”

  4. Mason says:

    I’m reading that the Kurds and the Syrians have now allied to defend against the Turks. That sounds like a good thing to me and it gets us out of having to fight our allies.

    Until Trump announced his pull back from the border, I doubt there would have been a Kurd-Syrian alliance any time soon. In fact, from my understanding the Kurds want to make their own country or autonomous region and were working against Syrian government forces to reach those ends.

    I don’t know if the plan was to get the Kurds and Syrians working together by pulling out. Frankly I think pulling our small number of troops back was a reactionary measure after the Turkish attack and because Trump is sick of our people being over there with no end in sight.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Turkey is a NATO ally of the USA. It was not a smart move on their part to aim an artillery strike at that outpost.

  5. Roh-Dog says:

    Oh look! ACTUAL FACTS!!!!
    It still amazes me just how much leftie-thinking clouds *someone’s* reality.

  6. NHSparky says:

    Wouldn’t it suck if some airstrikes “accidentally” hit Syrian/Turkish troops?

    • RGR 4-78 says:

      Hellfire and damnation. 🙂

    • Huey Jock says:

      Last week would have been a good time to have Stingers in the theatre to treat the Turk pilots to high-explosive sodomy. Kinda like the same fiasco at Aleppo before the Syrians started to dispense chemicals from helicopters.

      DAMN we need another Charlie Wilson

      I had to enlighten my former congressman to these facts back when he said we needed to do something about the Syrians against their own.

  7. Green Thumb says:

    Its interesting the media is now using the term “allies” to refer to the Kurds.

    • Roh-Dog says:

      Just as there’s no virgins in Hollyweird, there’s no honest women in the MSM.
      The MIC cabal needs a certain amount of bloodlust to justify their existence.
      (Full disclosure, I’m part of the problem, long; RTN, NOC, GD, etc)

      • Green Thumb says:

        I am very pro-Kurdish, Always have been.

        Odd the media is just figuring the Kurds out. But then again, they may not as the Kurds are a very tough puzzle indeed.

        The PKK and a few others are breakaways from the pack. They still have the national identity, but never came to the table for the “reconciliation” after the KDP-PUK “Truce”.

        All that aside, the PKK are tough and determined folks. Personally, no issue with them as they are tough fighters.

  8. 5th/77th FA says:

    Damned if we get out, damned if we don’t. Another campaign promise trying to be kept. Thanks Donald!

    • Cameron Kingsley says:

      Europe better watch it too or they might be next on the chopping block (except maybe Eastern Europe).

  9. Honor and Courage says:

    We have been Protecting The Kurds all the way back to Bush #1. Iraq, Syria and Turkey are going to have to make up their minds! We don’t have a dog in this Fight. NATO, and the UN set on there Ass, and do nothing. Time for us to pull the plug and see what is really below the surface!

    • Firebase says:

      Of course, we didn’t have a “dog in this fight” after the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan. Same with Iraq after Desert Storm, when we had the opportunity, but didn’t pursue Saddam’s retreating army all the way back to Baghdad. Both of those came back to bite us on the ass. And after Nazi Germany began bombarding England at the outset of World War Two, there were also plenty of Americans singing the same song: “We don’t have a “dog in this fight.”

  10. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    Well damn, not even a word from whatshisface, I’m sure he’s either out of his quota of free internet time or Berzerkely has been hit with a blackout.

    California, THE ONE US State where they use wind to generate electricity, yet they shut it the hell off when the wind blows, I couldn’t make shit like that up if I tried!

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Well, see, API, all that stuff that I put together is loaded with FACTS instead of twaddle, and I provide backup, as always.

      The squawking seagull never has facts or backup, so-o-o-o…….

      It is going to be interesting to witness what comes out of this in the end.

    • LC says:

      I offered a reply this morning with sources giving a different take, but it said it was awaiting moderation – perhaps because I left multiple links in it? Maybe it’s still there, or Ex-PH2 decided it wasn’t suitable, and it’s her thread so I won’t argue with that if that’s the case.

      But ultimately the head of the SDF and several people who know a bit about this sort of stuff all feel mildly differently, to say the least.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        I didn’t see that. I’ll go look at it. If it has a bunch of links, that is probably what put it in suspension.

      • David says:

        But absolutely none can answer the key question:”

        What is our dog in this fight? For every ‘right’ answer there are a host of ‘wrong’ reasons. I have stated here before – unless the people in charge can give a TRUE and cogent reason why we need to send troops somewhere, and how doing so will benefit us, we do not need to be going. JMHO.

        • LC says:

          I can understand that, certainly. And I think part of the problem is there isn’t a good or simple answer to the question.

          For my personal take, if we weren’t engaged there, I’d advocate against sending troops there. The catch is, once you’re engaged, a whiplash pullout like this one does more damage than good. Yes, it has the direct effect of getting soldiers out of harm’s way. But it also has the indirect effects of alienating our allies in the SDF, making us seem untrustworthy, giving ISIS a solid likelihood of growing again and giving wins to not-so-friendly geopolitical enemies in the region.

          The question then is, do those hard-to-quantify indirect effects outweigh the direct ones? I’m certainly inclined to think so. We’ve lost six soldiers in combat in the war in Syria since 2014 – an average of 1 per year. Now, nobody wants to lose any soldiers, or civilians for that matter, and nobody has a crystal ball, but it’s widely expected by people who know a lot about this region that these actions will lead to a resurgent ISIS. How many people did ISIS kill over that same time-frame? What’s the likely outcome of a resurgent ISIS, and how does that compare, in a morbid way, to the lives of the soldiers and the money spent on Syria?

          To try to give some numbers on the second item, in 2015 we had the San Bernardino attacks, by ISIS supporters, which killed 14 Americans. In 2016, there was the Pulse shooting by an ISIS supporter, killing 49, and an attack at Ohio State University that fortunately only killed 1. In 2017, 8 more dead. And these are just the US attacks.

          Now, you can certainly argue that even with a fully defeated ISIS, those attacks would’ve still happened, so scale them by whatever amount you want. I’m just saying that, to me, letting ISIS resurge is counter to American interests, even if it’s ‘over there’.

          This also says nothing of the things that matter more to me, like the ability of our intelligence people to recruit sources given the US’s perceived lack of faithfulness. That’s also going to harm us in the long run.

          So with all that said, to me it’s a bit like marriage – if you don’t want to get married, fine, don’t. If you do get married, don’t expect your spouse to be fine with things if you get cold feet a little ways into things. Supporting us staying there, and not abandoning allies, isn’t at odds with the notion that things would be better had we not gone in the first place. But since we did, it’s a moot point.

          Just my take, and I understand those who have skin in the game over there are welcome to feel very differently.

      • timactual says:

        Yeah, I’ve heard that joke before. 20+ years ago they were saying we need to intervene or the area would become unstable and infested with terrorists and jihadists.

  11. 26Limabeans says:

    The speed with which the area is going to Hell
    tells me we are smart to get out and let it burn.
    This peat fire has been smoldering for far too
    long and needs to be ripped open and allowed to
    burn itself out of fuel.
    It’s a giant tire fire. There is no putting it out. Just like the fuel tanks at Da Nang 1970.
    I watched it burn from a safe distance for at
    least a week. Then it ran out of fuel and I
    went home to a rewarding career in defense
    electronics. Now all the stuff I worked on is
    over “there” trying to keep the peace.
    I made a lot of money. Now I’m spending it.
    And ya know what? My girlfriend that wrote to
    me while I was in Viet of the Nam was Syrian!
    She dumped me for a Marine.
    So yeah, I got issues with Assad.
    Marines…not so much.