US-backed Syrian Kurds – with embedded American forces – lie in crossfire between the United States and Turkey, which has reached a critical point with the pending battle for the city of Raqqa, according to a report by the private intelligence firm Soufan Group on Wednesday.
“It is difficult to overstate how serious Turkey views the Kurdish question: There is no greater imperative for Ankara than preventing an autonomous, militarily capable Kurdish state on its southern border,” the report stated.
At issue is the pending battle to expel the Islamic State group from the group’s self-declared capital of Raqqa in northern Syria.
“The US is now increasingly focused on preventing a Turkish attack on the Kurdish rebels with whom US Special Operations forces are embedded,” the report explained.
In late April, the US military began high-visibility patrols in several northern Syrian towns to serve as a buffer between Turkey and the Kurdish rebel units, essentially thrusting the United States into protecting a non-state military force from a fellow NATO member, the release noted.
Turkey views Syrian Kurds as a branch of the Kurdish PKK, a US-designated terrorist group that is fighting for an autonomous state inside Turkey, the report added.