By Bijan Razzaghi
In Syria US Forces clashed and exchanged fire with Syrian Turkmen Army rebels in Manbij. The rebels are backed by the Turkish military and have fought both ISIS and the US backed Syrian Democratic Forces. No US troops were hit in the exchange of fire.
The clash is the first clash between Coalition forces fighting ISIS and anti assad regime forces, US Army Rangers and Stryker vehicles were originally sent to Manbij in April to support the Syrian Democratic Forces and prevent them from coming under air attack.
The primary focus of US Forces has been against ISIS while the Syrian Turkmen Army backed by Turkey has also been fighting Syrian Kurds and the Assad Regime. The difference in strategy has created tension between the US backed SDF and Turkish backed Rebels. The presence of US forces has deterred most attacks on the SDF yet there have been 6 major documented incidents where US coalition forces had to engage Assad Regime forces attacking SDF forces, this included the shoot down of a Syrian SU-22.
The US in Turkey will likely continue to use diplomatic channels to prevent further clashes between its allies and American allies on the ground. Turkey is a major NATO ally yet has different objectives than the US in its war in Syria as Turkey views the Kurdish elements in the SDF as a threat linked to the PKK.