According to the WSJ the U.S. agreed to join a further invasion of Syria by Turkey and its proxy forces:
The U.S. has agreed to send about 40 special-operations troops to work alongside Turkish forces to fight Islamic State in northern Syria, U.S. officials said.
The joint mission will take the forces east toward the northern Syrian town of Dabiq, a symbolically significant Islamic State stronghold. U.S. special-operations forces will operate as combat advisers and generally under the same guidelines as other special -operations forces are working inside Syria, U.S. officials said.
Ankara first proposed the idea of U.S. special -operations forces accompanying Turkish troops late last month as it planned a joint mission into Syria’s northern city of Jarabulus.
One can reasonably assume that the planned presence of U.S. forces amid a Turkish invasion has the sole purpose of deterring Russian or Syrian moves against it. With U.S. forces around the Russian command will have to think twice before bombing any Turkish advance beyond the borders of their agreement with the Russians.
The deployment of some 40 U.S. special forces to Al Ra’i did not go well. The Turkish « Free Syrian Army » proxies threatened to kill the U.S. forces. They called them « unbelievers » and « crusader pigs » and the U.S. forces had to retreat under Turkish cover (video). Some FSA spokesperson later claimed that the dispute was over U.S. support for the Kurdish dominated SDF, which at times had fought against the FSA. Unconfirmed reports now say that the special forces are back in Al Ra’i after certain FSA groups were ordered out of the area. There are alsoreports claiming the U.S., after the special forces were chased out of town, « accidentally » bombed some FSA group in Al Ra’i. Ooops.
However, the hostile FSA forces will be around and U.S. Special Forces are obviously seen as their enemy. If the U.S. forces proceed together with the other FSA groups they will certainly have to watch their back at any and all times.
The Turkish supported sectarian « moderate » FSA groups are the very same groups the CIA has « vetted » and provided with TOW missiles and other weapons. But nobody should be astonished that such groups, driven by religious zeal, eventually turn on their sponsors. They have done so in each historic parallel one can think of.
The current ceasefire in Syria is already breaking down. U.S. media claim that Russia and Syria are blocking UN aid to the al-Qaeda ruled areas in east-Aleppo but other media say that the « rebels » are the ones threatening the convoys. In east-Aleppo al-Qaeda demonstrators held a rally (vid) against UN aid.
Russia says that the U.S. is trying to fudge on the terms of the ceasefire agreements and pushes the U.S. to publish the full accord. That is blocked by the State Department:
On Thursday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington that the full text of the deal worked out with Russia on the truce in Syria will not be made public. “It does deal with sensitive issues that we believe, if made public, could potentially be misused,” he said.
Translation: « It is more difficult to cheat on the agreement if the terms are public. »
The U.S. supported opposition forces are using the ceasefire to prepare for new attacks on Hama and in the north of Aleppo city. I expect those to start at the beginning of next week. They will meet prepared defenses and ferocious attacks by Syrian and Russian air forces.