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U.S. tries to stop feuding allies from unraveling Syria strategy

Reuters

Monday, August 29, 2016

The United States scrambled on Monday to get its feuding allies, Turkey and Kurdish YPG militia, to focus their firepower on Islamic State instead of each other after clashes that have threatened to unravel America’s war strategy in Syria.

Turkey, which has long viewed Kurdish militants as its top security threat, upended U.S. assumptions about the conflict by launching a major push last week into northern Syria that has included areas controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes experienced Kurdish YPG fighters…

In a nod to Turkey, Carter also praised Turkish military advances against Islamic State in the past week, notably its seizure of the town of Jarablus.

Blaise Misztal, director of national security at the Bipartisan Policy Center think-tank, said the United States was witnessing the consequences of a strategy that heavily depended on Kurdish fighters to defeat Islamic State, despite explicit Turkish objections.

“The enemy of my enemy is still my enemy,” Misztal said.

Experts warned that it was far from clear whether Ankara would back down, given that the United States was unlikely to side with Kurdish militia over NATO ally Turkey.

KEYWORDS: ASHTON CARTER, BLAISE MISZTAL, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, ISIS, NATO, SYRIA, TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKEY, YPG