21 August 2016

This is Getting Insane

We are now scrambling jets to defend its allies in Syria against the Assad regime:
U.S. fighter jets scrambled to eastern Syria this week when Syrian bombers attacked in the vicinity of American and coalition Special Operations forces working with Kurdish and Arab opposition fighters, the Pentagon said Friday.

The unprecedented incident, near the Syrian city of Hasakah, did not result in a direct confrontation or any injury to U.S. or coalition forces.

But it illustrated the increasingly tense and ambiguous Syrian battlefield, where aircraft and ground troops from multiple countries — with multiple agendas and loyalties — are fighting overlapping wars.

Following the initial Thursday incident, the coalition began “actively patrolling the airspace nearby,” a Defense Department official said. Early Friday, “two Syrian SU-24 aircraft attempted to transit the area and were met by coalition fighter aircraft,” which “encouraged” the Syrians to depart “without further incident,” said the official, who spoke on a Pentagon-imposed condition of anonymity.

The Syrian military, engaged in a five-year civil conflict, has generally given a wide berth to U.S. aircraft targeting the Islamic State, as have Russian jets aiding their Syrian ally. But local fighters being assisted by U.S. Special Operations forces on the ground are often opposed to both the Islamic State and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


Marine Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway said that the Syrian strikes targeted Kurdish forces in Hasakah on Thursday. Social-media reports indicated that several Kurds were killed in the bombing.

U.S. forces initially contacted Russia, using “deconfliction” channels established to ensure that Russian and U.S. planes over Syria avoid each other, but were told that the bombers in question were not Russian. Ground forces received no response to attempts to contact the planes through a recognized radio channel.

The United States then launched a “combat air patrol,” Rankine-Galloway said. It arrived in the area as the Syrian Su-24 ground-attack aircraft were leaving. While he would not specify from where the U.S. aircraft were launched, the United States maintains a contingent of F-15 fighter jets at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.
So, now the Syrians are bombing the Kurds.

My guess is that this is a result of the recent Turkish and Russian rapprochement:  The Turks see any form of Kurdish state as an existential threat to their state, and so the Syrian attacks on Kurdish positions are likely an artifact of this.

The US is clearly unamused by this development, since there are reports that fighters sent to intercept the Syrian aircraft was an F-22, probably because they were concerned about Syrian and Russian SAMs.

The US forces are in a bit of a bind though, because the Turks are implacably opposed to any Kurdish autonomous regions.

The only way the US wins this game is not to play.


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