Monday, August 29, 2016

WAR ON ISIS - Combined Operations in Syria

"Turkish, U.S.  forces launch operation in Syria; Biden calls for Kurds to halt advances" PBS NewsHour 8/24/2016


SUMMARY:  Backed by U.S. forces, the Turkish military has launched a major operation inside Syria, sending warplanes and ground troops to retake territory held by the Islamic State.  Vice President Joe Biden also called upon Kurdish rebels in the area to stop advances into Turkey, saying they would not receive U.S. support otherwise.  Judy Woodruff speaks with the Atlantic Council's Aaron Stein for more.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Turkish military forces launched a major operation inside Syria today to retake the strategic border town of Jarabulus from ISIS.

Turkish and American jets attacked from above, as Turkish tanks and special forces moved into the town.  Syrian rebel groups were also part of the operation.

Beyond ousting ISIS from the area, Turkey has another motive for attacking on Jarabulus, to stem the ambitions of the main U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish Militia, known as the YPG, which has been taking over territory from ISIS.

Vice President Biden was visiting Turkey today, and he called upon the Kurds to limit their advances.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:  We have made it absolutely clear to the elements that were part of the Syrian democratic forces, the YPG that participated, that they must move back across the river.  They cannot, will not and under no circumstances get American support if they do not keep that commitment, period.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  We examine the significance of all of this now with Aaron Stein.  He's a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

Aaron Stein, thank you for being here.

AARON STEIN, Atlantic Council:  Thank you for having me.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, what is the significance of this incursion across the border into Syria?

AARON STEIN:  I think the biggest one is, it denies ISIS one of its last major crossing points across the Turkish-Syrian border.

Jarabulus has historically been a place where they have moved men and material across.  So, by Turkey moving in alongside of its host of Arab groups, ISIS loses territory along its border, ISIS goes weaker.  And this is a good thing for the U.S.  and Turkey.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  But if it hadn't been for this move, it's possible that the Syrian Kurds would have been in that territory sooner or later, is that not right?

AARON STEIN:  Yes, I think that's the issue here, is that the United States is having to thread a very fine needle.  It's having to thread the needle very finely here.

But it has to, one, prosecute the war against ISIS, where the Syrian Kurds have become the most prominent ground force and the one capable of taking the most territory, while managing ties with a NATO ally who is very wary of the Syrian Kurds moving up to its border.

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