Small Wars Journal

On Northern Syria Front Line, U.S. and Turkey Head Into Tense Face-off

On Northern Syria Front Line, U.S. and Turkey Head Into Tense Face-off by Rod Nordland – New York Times

Two senior American generals came to the front line outside the Syrian city of Manbij on Wednesday flying outsized American flags on their vehicles, in case pro-Turkish forces just the other side of the no man’s land, 20 yards away, did not realize who they were.

“We’re very proud of our positions here, and we want to make sure everybody knows it,” said Maj. Gen. Jamie Jarrard, the Special Operations commander for the American-led coalition in Iraq and Syria.

If the message to Turkey was not clear already, the overall coalition commander accompanying General Jarrard, Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, elaborated. “You hit us, we will respond aggressively. We will defend ourselves.”

The trip was the first by such senior United States military officers to the front in northern Syria since Turkey’s president threatened to attack the city of Manbij, calling it a bastion of terrorists and demanding that American forces leave.

But the Americans have refused, creating the potential for an unprecedented armed conflict between two NATO allies, the United States and Turkey — the latest twist on the seven-year-old war in Syria.

This part of Syria’s north was once overrun by Islamic State militants. The United States and its allies, Syrian Kurdish fighters, collaborated more than a year ago to evict them…

Read on.