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Friendly Fire: Intense Clashes on Turkey-Syria Border Endanger US Forces

© REUTERS / Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media OfficeTurkish army tanks make their way towards the Syrian border town of Jarablus, Syria August 24, 2016
Turkish army tanks make their way towards the Syrian border town of Jarablus, Syria August 24, 2016 - Sputnik International
Tensions rise following the first death of a Turkish soldier at the hands of US-backed YPG Kurdish forces with whom American Special Forces are often embedded.

The crisis in Syria has taken on another dimension with war being waged on several fronts among mixed allies and enemies after Turkey vowed to intervene more aggressively in the fight against Daesh (ISIS), but have trained their weapons instead on US-backed Kurdish forces out of domestic self-interest.

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The United States now finds itself aligned not only with the Erdogan regime, but also with Kurdish YPG forces considered by Ankara to be a terrorist organization aligned with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), the latter of which aim to carve out a separatist stronghold in Turkey.

President Obama’s delicate balance between the two opposing forces who share the mission of defeating and degrading Daesh in Syria appears to be collapsing following an intense offensive by Turkish forces that have left at least 70 people killed, the majority of whom are civilians according to local monitoring groups, in Kurdish dominated areas. 

The Turkish military, by contrast, claims that it killed at least 25 “terrorists,” the majority of which are believed to be Kurds rather than Daesh jihadists, claiming that they are taking all necessary measures to protect the safety of noncombatants.

Regardless of whether the Erdogan regime struck civilian or military installations, the Obama administration now finds its soldiers stuck between the two sides – both of which are US allies.

American Special Forces remain embedded with YPG forces who earlier this month helped to oust Daesh from the strategic enclave of Manbij less than 20 miles from the outbreak of Saturday’s airstrikes. Those same US Special Forces also work with their Turkish counterparts who they rely on for rear supply lines according to Wall Street Journal sources.

The Obama administration now faces yet another major crisis in Syria with American Special Forces potentially in the crosshairs of Turkish bombing campaigns as the Erdogan regime seeks revenge against YPG Forces after the Kurds successfully struck a Turkish tank killing one soldier.

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The clash between Turkey and Kurdish forces is not the only mixed allegiance that the United States finds itself locked in at present as the Obama administration continues to provide arms and support to the so-called "moderate" rebel opposition to the Assad regime while engaging in bombing of al-Nusra Front (formerly al-Qaeda) terrorists – the only catch is that the rebels and al-Nusra Front have joined forces under the umbrella group The Army of Conquest.

With yet another major military force drawn into Syria to conduct an operation focused on self-interest first and the fight against terrorism second, the question is now whether that delicate balance can be maintained or whether confusion over who each side is really fighting will turn chaos into tragedy.

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