US-Turkish discord over the Turkish army’s onslaught on the Kurds of northern Syria reached a new low Wednesday, Aug. 30, when the presidential palace spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in Ankara: “The US must revise its policy of supporting Kurdish forces.”
The demand came after a senior US official called on “all the armed actors in the fight against the Islamic State in northern Syria to stand down,” in an effort to contain the new conflict dragging northern Syria into further chaos.
The call was addressed equally to Ankara to freeze its military operations in Syria and to the Kurdish PYD-YPG militia to halt the flow of fraternal reinforcements for defending Mabij, the Syrian town the militia wrested from ISIS earlier this month with US assistance.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Turkish army and Kurdish forces are already tensely aligned for a decisive battle over Manbij that will determine the outcome of the Turkish invasion of Aug. 24. President Tayyip Erdogan calculates that a Turkish victory will force the Kurds to retreat to the eastern bank of the Euphrates and away from the Turkish border, while Kurdish leaders are determined to halt the Turkish army at the gates of the town, and so brand the invasion a fiasco and carry off an epic victory.
The Obama administration is making a huge effort to avert this confrontation. In the hope of reining in the Turks, Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Ankara on the day their army crossed the Syrian border and met them halfway by issuing an ultimatum to the Kurds to withdraw to east of the Euphrates or else lose US support.
Unheeding of the US warning, the Kurds went forward to build up their fighting strength and engage the Turkish army.
Washington fears that a Turkish-Kurdish showdown in Manbij will further destabilize the military situation such as it is in northern Syria and northern Iraq, and all their efforts to persuade the Kurds to lead the ground forces of the coalition offensives against ISIS will go for nothing.
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