Syria: The U.S. Will Step Aside for Turkey's Push Against the SDF

Oct 7, 2019 | 18:33 GMT

Turkish armored vehicles train near Idlib on the Turkish border with Syria.

Turkish forces like these training on the western Syrian border near Idlib in January 2019 have massed for an offensive into northeastern Syria, where Kurdish militias have cooperated with U.S. forces to counter the Islamic State.

(CEM GENCO/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


  • Turkey's determination to proceed with a military incursion into northeastern Syria has forced the U.S. to choose between its strategic relationship with Ankara and its local commitments. 
  • The U.S. decision to withdraw significantly reduces the risk of a clash with Turkish forces and creates an opening to improve their relationship.
  • The withdrawal will make other groups in the region and beyond more cautious about risking alignment with Washington for fear of eventual abandonment.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops in the face of an impending incursion by Turkish forces into northeastern Syria will significantly decrease the risk of a clash between them. Turkey appears determined to take action against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S. ally dominated by Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which have cooperated in the fight against transnational terrorism in the region. Both the Turkish operation and the U.S. withdrawal will come with a cost....

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