Turkey massing on Syrian Kurd border

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Turkey massing on Syrian Kurd border

Well, looks the Middle East is going to heat up again...

The Trump administration has launched a last-ditch effort to head off a Turkish invasion of northeast Syria that it expects will come within the next two weeks.

With tens of thousands of Turkish troops massed near the border, a high-level Defense Department delegation plans to present what U.S. officials describe as a final offer to address Turkey’s concerns at a meeting Monday in Ankara.

The meeting marks the climax of a years-long dispute between the two NATO allies over U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish fighters who have led the ground war against the Islamic State, but whom Turkey considers a terrorist threat to its own security. Kurdish-led victories against the militant group have effectively left them in control of much of the border area.

Failure of the U.S. effort could throw the war-devastated region into even deeper turmoil, endangering efforts to rout Islamic State remnants and President Trump’s goal of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria.

Voice of America did a short piece on it:

This is coming on the heels of the Turkish announcing they were going with Russian Anti-Air assets, a move that had already damaged US/Turkish relations back in June:

Turkey's President Erdogan says he hopes a Russian missile system that Washington sees as a threat to US jets will be delivered in July.

The US had said Turkey could not have both the S-400 anti-aircraft defence system and US F-35 fighter jets.

But Mr Erdogan said Turkey would hold to account anyone who excluded Turkey from the F-35 programme.

Nato member Turkey has signed up to buying 100 F-35s and has invested heavily in the F-35 programme.

Turkish companies produce 937 of the plane's parts.

Mr Erdogan said he hoped to resolve the situation with the US through phone diplomacy ahead of a meeting with President Trump at the end of June, Reuters reported.

Financial Times had more on the build up:

Turkey will launch a military operation in a Kurdish-controlled region of Syria, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned, a move that would escalate tensions between Ankara and the US.Speaking on Sunday, Mr Erdogan said Turkey would enter north east Syria to take over areas controlled by Kurdish-dominated militias backed by the US.

“So far, we have been patient. But that patience has its limits,” he said. Mr Erdogan said Turkey had notified both the US and Russia — a key backer of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad — of its plans.

Turkey has long threatened to invade the part of Syria adjacent to its southern border, arguing that the forces that control the region pose a threat to national security. The Syrian Democratic Forces is largely made up of Kurdish militias with close links to the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), an armed insurgent group that has been engaged in a 35-year conflict against the Turkish state.

The SDF has been armed and trained by the American-led international coalition fighting Isis, the Islamist militant group, who earlier this year lost their last piece of territory close to the Syria-Iraq border. Washington has backed Syrian Kurdish forces as key allies in the battle against Isis, and any Turkish offensive against them risks triggering a US backlash.

Let's hope this can be calmed down before it goes south.

A Department of Defense (DOD) delegation is planning to meet in Ankara on Monday in an effort to calm tensions amid a threatened military offensive by Turkey in Kurdish-held territory in Syria, the Washington Post reported Sunday. 

Turkey has gathered tens of thousands of troops near the border with Syria and officials fear an operation could be launched in weeks against American-backed Kurdish fighters.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.