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Marines in Syria: US Trying to Keep Anti-ISIS Frenemies Apart

Image: Marines in Syria: US Trying to Keep Anti-ISIS Frenemies Apart

By    |   Thursday, 09 Mar 2017 09:28 AM

U.S. Marines have arrived in Syria to establish an artillery outpost to support the coming battle to free the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State, and while there to keep  warring allies apart from each other.

The deployment this week was from the San Diego-based 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which left in October, according to the Washington Post.

The U.S. troops were dispatched to Manbij, 85 miles northwest of Raqqa, to protect Kurdish and Arab allies against a threatened assault from a Turkish-backed force, which are also U.S. allies.

Public displays of convoys of U.S.-flagged troops in Stryker armored vehicles and Humvees heading through the northern Syrian countryside was by design, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Joe Davis told reporters.

"We want to have a visible show that we're there," Davis told the Post. He said he hopes the presence will allow all fighters to "stay focused on the common enemy, which is ISIS."

Manbij is the first instance in which U.S. troops have become directly involved in keeping rival factions apart and from attacking each other. In Iraq, the U.S. had been mediating a peace between two rival U.S. allied Kurdish factions after fighting kicked up in Snune after it was freed from ISIS control, the Post reported.

To complicate matters, NATO ally Turkey urged U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month to cut off support the Syrian Kurdish militia that is going after the Islamic State in Raqqa, reported Military.com.

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik told Mattis that his government considers the Syrian Kurdish militia, called the YPG (People's Protection Units), a terrorist offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and had been labeled a terror group by the U.S.

"Anti-terror operations cannot succeed in this way" if the U.S. continues to back the YPG, Isik told Mattis, according to a Turkish defense ministry official, noted Military.com.

Military.com said Turkey recently joined Russia and Iran in an effort to negotiate a ceasefire in Syria's civil war. The country has also pushed the U.S. in demanding the extradition of Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been blamed with organizing the failed coup in Turkey last July.

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U.S. Marines have arrived in Syria to establish an artillery outpost to support the coming battle to free the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State, and while there to keep warring allies apart from each other.
us, marines, syria, frenemies
360
2017-28-09
Thursday, 09 Mar 2017 09:28 AM
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