(Photo credit: Military Times)
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on 26 November that large reinforcements of US military troops and equipment made their way into northern and eastern Syria, coming in from the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) through the illegal Al-Waleed border crossing.
“These reinforcements consist of about 100 trucks, which crossed the city of Qamishli and headed towards US bases in Tal Baidar and Qasrak, south of Hasakah,” the SOHR said.
According to the SOHR, this is the sixth US military convoy to enter northern and eastern Syria this month, “coinciding with the Turkish ground and air escalation in those areas.”
It added that the previous day, on 25 November, reinforcements were also seen entering areas under the control of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, under the supervision of coalition troops.
The reinforcements came in through the Al-Waleed crossing, SOHR said, and included 30 trucks loaded with logistical supplies and tanks.
The large number of troops and equipment entering the country comes as part of the US military’s customary rotation of forces between its bases in Iraq and Syria. However, it also coincides with Ankara’s revenge operation in northern Syria against the SDF and its allied militias, which Turkey has blamed for the deadly Istanbul blast on 13 October.
The reinforcements could be Washington’s attempt to deter Turkey, as US efforts to mediate between Ankara and the SDF are currently taking place with the aim of preventing the ground offensive that Turkish officials have been promising.
In protest against the Turkish escalation, the SDF has suspended its anti-ISIS operations with the US coalition and has stressed to Washington that it has a ‘moral duty’ to protect its Kurdish allies.
The SDF has previously accused the US of turning a blind eye to Turkish aggression. The reinforcements could mean that Washington is attempting to reassure its allies that they have its protection.