US deploys forces to Rojava border with Turkey
US forces have deployed along the border between Rojava and Turkey to deter Turkish aggression against Kurdish forces, according to multiple sources.
On Friday, US forces started “patrolling on the border… to ease tensions and stop Turkey from launching attacks,” Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) media representative Mustefa Bali stated.
This week, Turkish forces have targeted Kurdish self-defence forces and villages around Gire Spi (Tal Abyad) and Kobane in the western regions of Rojava, the self-autonomous region of northern Syria. There have been casualties among both self-defence forces and civilians, including a young girl killed on Thursday.
Forces of the international coalition and the SDF began conducting patrols around Gire Spi and Kobane on Friday morning, according to local journalists.
A conflict monitor reported that the US is deploying forces along the length of the border between Rojava and Turkey.
“Reliable sources confirmed that the American forces were deployed on the entire border strip with Turkey in the area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, in order to prevent any Turkish movements towards the area,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated.
Turkey has repeatedly threatened a full military operation against the Kurdish region east of the Euphrates River and all the way to the Tigris River that runs through the triangle where the borders of Syria, Turkey, and Iraq meet.
Neither the US nor the international coalition had confirmed the deployment as of time of publication.
American and Turkish military officials are in regular contact. On Thursday they began conducting joint patrols in the Manbij area, just west of the Euphrates near the frontlines between Turkish and Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
Their defense ministers, Hulusi Akar and James Mattis, discussed the situation in Syria in a phone call on Friday, Anadolu Agency reported.
US President Donald Trump spoke by phone with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan the day before. They discussed developments in Syria, among other issues, and agreed to stay in close contact in the subsequent days.
Iraq beefs up border security
The SDF – leading the war against ISIS on the ground in northern Syria in coordination with the international coalition – has temporarily suspended operations against the jihadists in Deir ez-Zor province because of Turkey’s actions.
ISIS is fighting to hold onto its last major stronghold in the Hajin pocket, a stretch of territory along the Euphrates River just across the border from Iraq.
With the suspension of SDF operations, Iraq is beefing up its positions on the border, anticipating a possible increased threat from the militants.
“All measures have been taken: we have control towers, observation posts, dirt berms and trenches,” Lieutenant Colonel Abbas Mohammad, the head of one border unit, said on Thursday, AFP reported.
“The SDF’s retreat will not be a threat to Iraq,” he added.