U.S. troops and an allied Syrian militia began joint patrols Wednesday, September 4, in a town on the border with Turkey, Kurdish news agency, Hawar News, reported.
The creation of a so-called “safe zone” in northeastern Syria has gotten off to good start, with U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces pulling back from a small, initial area along the Turkish border, a Syrian Kurdish official said — but calm can only prevail if Turkey also removes its troops.
Turkey views the U.S-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in Syria as an extension of a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.
Ankara has already carried out military offensives inside Syria to push the group away from the western end of the border. Over the last weeks, Turkish officials threatened a similar offensive in northeastern Syria, where troops from the U.S.-led coalition are deployed to help the Syrian Kurdish-led forces in combatting remnants of the Islamic State.
The Syrian Kurds have been America’s only partners on the ground in Syria’s chaotic civil war. With U.S. backing, they proved to be the most effective fighting force against the Islamic State group and announced its territorial defeat earlier this year. The Kurds now worry about being abandoned by the U.S. amid Turkish threats to invade Syria, and are keen to work out an agreement with both parties that would safeguard their gains.