Turkey Threatens As U.S. Deploys Troops In Syria
By Sami Moubayed, The Arab Weekly | March 13, 2017 at 11:34 AM
BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 13 (UPI) — As the Syrian war edges toward its seventh year on Wednesday, several hundred elite U.S. Army Rangers and Marines with heavy artillery have deployed in northern Syria in a modest but significant military escalation by U.S. President Donald Trump in the campaign against the Islamic State that may further expand in the coming weeks.
U.S. officials on Wednesday said the Trump administration could base up to 1,000 U.S. troops in Kuwait to serve as a fast-reaction reserve force in the battle against IS — a move that strongly suggests Trump is prepared to substantially raise the stakes in Syria after years of half-hearted U.S. involvement.
However, the U.S. action heightened tensions with Turkey, a NATO partner and nominal ally, and sharply exposed the increasingly complex geopolitical rivalries that have emerged in northern Syria. They come amid final preparations for the battle for Raqqa, de facto capital of the caliphate proclaimed by the Islamic State and the group’s last urban stronghold in Syria.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned that Ankara’s relations with the United States could be “seriously damaged” if the Americans continued to support the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-dominated alliance that has been the United States’ most reliable partner in the multisided Syrian maelstrom.
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