Written by Brian Betts exclusively for SouthFront
The Pentagon and White House continue to deny any U.S. combat troop involvement in Syria. However, recent photos featured in the Washington Post reveal a team of what appears to be a U.S. Special Forces team in Syria.
As of April, 2016 the U.S. had a reported 300 troops operating within Syria. The official stance on these troops, and their mission, is that the men will be “providing advice and assistance to the Syrian Democratic Forces.”
In reality, so-called “Syrian Defense Force” (SDF) commanders have been reporting U.S. missile teams engaging ISIS suicide vehicles since May, 2016. The combined outfit of U.S. Special Forces and SDF troops aim to take Raqqa from ISIS.
A Message to Ankara
Within the same articles discussing evidence of U.S. Special Forces in Syria, additional photos of U.S. forces wearing patches from the Kurdish Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG) have sent shockwaves through Ankara.
Some reports claim the patches are merely an attempt to blend in with the colorful landscape of foreign and domestic fighters operating in Syria. Indeed, some of the photos depict what would appear to be Americans with no form of identifying nation badges; but rather the YPG’s triangular, yellow flag. However, other images and reports would appear to suggest that American Special Forces have a significant level of respect for the Syrian Kurds. For this reason, Twitter user @Furiouskurd claims, “US soldiers understand Kurdish values of freedom, equality and democracy, that[‘]s why they wear YPG badge with pride.”
Turkey has responded to the U.S. troops wearing YPG badges with an offer to cooperate in a joint invasion of Syria. The single stipulation given by the Turkish government is that all operations exclude the Syrian Kurds and their YPG forces, reports the AFP. While this bold talk was met with predictable enthusiasm by the SDF, Washington has remained quiet on the matter. No official answer has been given.
The Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, claimed that a combination of Turkish and U.S. Special Forces could “easily” handle the assault on ISIS’s capital city of Raqqa. Simultaneously, Cavusoglu admonished American officials for “not keeping their promise” to deliver the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in numbers, to the Turkish border.
The HIMARS system would supposedly be used to target ISIS. However, the systems could easily reach Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions along the northern Syrian border. Cavusoglu implied that further delays and misalignments with Washington could have implications with the U.S. access to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.