A new front opens in the Syrian Civil war

The already complicated mess that is our war against ISIS just got a whole lot messier.

Residents of the northeastern Syrian city of Hassakeh took advantage on Friday of a lull in the fighting between Kurdish forces and Syrian government troops to flee to safer areas nearby, after fighting intensified the previous day with government warplanes bombing Kurdish-controlled positions in the city for the first time, activists and others said.
Shortly afterward, clashes broke out anew, a Kurdish official said.
The fighting between the Kurdish troops and government forces could add a new dimension to the country's deadly war, now in its sixth year, by potentially opening a new front in Syria.
The area around Hassakeh had witnessed battles between the two sides in the past but this week's violence has been among the worst since Kurdish fighters took control of wide, predominantly Kurdish areas in northern Syria in 2012.

Embedded US military advisers were "nearby" when those bombs were being dropped.
Syrian bombers returned for a second day.
Most of Hasakeh city, the capital of the northeastern province by the same name, is controlled by Kurdish forces.
Syrian Kurds and Assad forces, who fought side by side from 2012 until this year, have clashed several times since Syrian Kurds declared their region autonomous. However, this is a whole new level of fighting.

Syrian Kurds also have an unstable alliance with Sunni rebel groups that are also our allies.

Two Syrian Kurds were shot dead by a former member of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) earlier this month, in what the executioner said was a response to an incident last month in which the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) killed around 50 FSA fighters and transported them back to Kurdish territory in an open-top trailer.

If this sounds like a complicated and volatile mix to you, that only means you are paying attention.
Into this mix are international relations. Consider that just the other day, Turkey and Iran agreed on a Syrian peace plan. Since they back opposite sides in this war, that seems bizarre. But they have something in common.

However, Turkey and Iran have large Kurdish communities and both appear to be concerned about Syria's Kurds gaining more areas under their control on the border with Turkey. Ankara also considers the YPG a terrorist organization because of its links to Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

In fact, this Turkey-Iran alliance is exactly what the Syrian Kurds are blaming for this new conflict.
Most Americans aren't aware that Iran has its own Kurdish rebellion.

Anyone familiar with the history of this region should not be surprised.
Nor should they be surprised when the Iraqi Kurd-Baghdad conflict breaks out.

A member of the Iraqi parliament stated on Thursday that Peshmerga forces will receive the same treatment as the Islamic State (IS) if they do not withdraw from liberated areas.
Mohammed Saihoud an Iraqi MP from the State of Law bloc, led by the former Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki, said that “if Peshmerga forces do not retreat from the liberated areas, they will be considered as occupiers, not liberators.”
“IS and Peshmerga forces are equal before the gunfire of the Iraqi security forces and Hashd al-Shaabi if they insist on the occupation of the liberated areas,” the Shia MP told an Iraqi news outlet.
Last Wednesday, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) spokesperson responded to the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’ who said that Peshmerga forces should remain in their current positions and do not advance further towards Mosul.
The KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee told Kurdistan24 that Peshmerga forces will not withdraw from the areas in their control because Peshmerga is the source of security and stability for people.

Of course, Baghdad's instructions directly conflict with what we are telling the Iraqi Kurds to do.
Baghdad and Erbil have already clashed recently.
The American news media is starting to wake up to this reality.

These events underline what Washington prefers to ignore: U.S. allies in the Middle East are training their guns on each other, and this could unravel the fragile global coalition against Islamic State.
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mimi's picture

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riverlover's picture

And look what happened to them.

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Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

embedded with the Kurds, just as all the regional powers are getting ready to turn their guns on the Kurds.

Nothing to worry about here?

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riverlover's picture

IIRC, they are a white ethnic something? Whitish?

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Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

Hillary will get them all sorted out.

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native

detroitmechworks's picture

by giving them guns and money, and somehow are shocked, SHOCKED, when they start fighting each other, but not the targets WE picked.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

Hillbilly Dem's picture

Realpolitik. The disgraceful legacy of Hillary's hero, Henry Kissinger.

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"Just call me Hillbilly Dem(exit)."
-H/T to Wavey Davey

Our military is in the service of the largest international capitalist corporations; each year these wars continue, we lose more of our Bill of Rights protections; many areas of the country have completely militarized police departments; Mexico exports more cars to the USA than Canada; the tax code has been juggled so that vulture capitalists pay less than 50% of what they owe.

The USA is responsible for over 1 million deaths under Bush and Obama and Clinton promises more of the same.

NAFTA can be dumped by us with a 6 month notice. Since Sanders was cheated out of the nomination, NAFTA will stay with us.

I like the Green Party's promise to cut the military/intelligence complex by 50%.

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"The justness of individual land right is not justifiable to those to whom the land by right of first claim collectively belonged"

the word "isolationist". It should be possible to interact dynamically with the world at large, without relying on military force to do it.

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native

Bollox Ref's picture

despite fewer people to kill.

The Syrian debacle makes the English Civil War look like a picnic.

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

Not Henry Kissinger's picture

Pro-Syrian Government Armies:
Loyal Assad Forces
Iranian Revolutionary Guards
Lebanese Hezbollah
Russia (air support, supply and advisors)
China (announced this week)

Anti-Syrian Government Armies:
ISIS jihadists
Not ISIS jihadists (al Quaeda, al Nusra, et al.)
Syrian army mutineers
USA (air support, supply and advisors)
Britain
France

Non combat sponsors:
Israel (but for how long?)
Saudi Arabia
Qatar

Wildcard Armies:
Turkey (pulling out of Nato?)
Kurds (hate Turkey)

Iraqi Armies (a category unto their own):
Iragi Government Army
Iraqi Shiite militias
Iraqi Sunni militias
Iraqi Kurdish militias

Am I missing anyone?

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The current working assumption appears to be that our Shroedinger's Cat system is still alive. But what if we all suspect it's not, and the real problem is we just can't bring ourselves to open the box?

They always seem to be poking around somewhere.

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native

Not Henry Kissinger's picture

It's under USA, but there are definitely different CIA and Pentagon factions of American forces in Syria.

And they both aren't necessarily on the same side. In fact, at one point they were reported to be shooting at each other.

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The current working assumption appears to be that our Shroedinger's Cat system is still alive. But what if we all suspect it's not, and the real problem is we just can't bring ourselves to open the box?

From material I have read, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syrian governments do not want to see independent Kurdish homelands so some fighting is not too surprising even given the cooperation against IS. Given the success of the Kurds in Northern Syria, looks like they have the full support of the Pentagon.

I wonder if there are interests pushing the Kurds to start a full blown fight against the Syrian government given that Al Queda may totally lose Aleppo and cause a total collapse of CIA backed resistance. In essence pushing the Kurds to take up where Al Queda and the moderate head choppers left off.

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but I'm afraid so.

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native

tapu dali's picture

It's the Turks that worry me the most. There is no way they will countenance an independent, or even autonomous, Kurdish state in the south-east.

Turkey is an "important US ally against the GWOT" and a NATO ally. Despite the current disagreements between the US and Turkey, I don't see the US supporting the Kurds to the point of autonomy/independence.

The US will be glad of the Kurds' assistance for now, but at some stage the Kurds will be cut loose. That's not the first time.

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There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.

of the situation, for what it's worth (which is probably not much):
Yes, certainly I agree, the USG is trying to use the Kurds as pawns, as per usual. But this time things might not go as planned or hoped for. The Kurds have never been as strong militarily as they are now, and Turkey has never been weaker. Erdogan talks big, but his army has been badly shaken by the coup aftermath, and so have his diplomatic ties with the "West" in general. The US has now transferred all its nukes from Incirlik to Romania - a sign of the times?

Meanwhile Assad's survival still depends largely on Putin's good graces, and Iraq's government is coming apart at the seams. The Kurds might not need US support, or even approval, in order to hold some or all of the territory they have gained from ISIS. For the time being at least, nobody can afford to mess with the Kurds. I'd bet that this recent attempt by the Syrians to bomb Kurdish police forces did not have Putin's approval.

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native

tapu dali's picture

The US has now transferred all its nukes from Incirlik to Romania - a sign of the times?

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There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.

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native

Throw in US troops working with the Asayish, and it is a mess. But this is not a Kurd vs. Regime battle exactly. It usually starts with some Kurds (Asayish) fighting with National Defense Force (locals) over local politics. The regime comes in and takes the side of the NDF.

This has happened before. Asayish in Aleppo clashed with National Defense Forces back in April in Al Qamishli prompting the regime to get involved. Lots of diplomatic efforts were involved to bring this back from the brink. This time, it seems to be localized in Hasakah for the time being. Hopefully, again the other political forces on both sides will prevail.

April:
Regional Kurdish security forces will keep territory taken from pro-Syrian government forces during a three-day outbreak of violence in northeastern Syria, a truce document announced on April 24 showed, with both sides to release prisoners taken during the clashes.

Fighting broke out between Kurdish Asayish forces and pro-Syrian government security forces on April 20 in Qamishli, near the Turkish border. A peace accord took effect at 3:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) on April 22 and the truce was holding on April 24.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/kurdish-forces-to-keep-territory-taken-...

August:
AMMAN: Security forces loyal to the dominant Kurdish political party in Syria’s northern Al-Hasakah province arrested dozens of political opponents on Tuesday and Wednesday after demonstrations in seven Kurdish cities.

The wave of arrests began Tuesday after multiple protests denouncing what they called PYD abuses, and reportedly included dozens of politicians, activists, photographers and civilians affiliated with the Kurdish National Council (KNC).

The KNC is the main political opposition to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which leads the Self-Administration governing Kurdish-held territories, including the Jazira canton in Al-Hasakah, in Syria’s far-northeast corner.

http://syriadirect.org/news/asayish-crack-down-on-political-opponents-in...

While arresting others, the Asayish started arresting NDF. Which led to:

http://syriancivilwarmap.com/another-round-of-fighting-in-hasakah/

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native

U.S. threatens to shoot down Syrian bombers

A pair of US F-22 Raptor warplanes were scrambled into the area around the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh to confront Syrian Su-24 fighters and chase them away from the contested city, which is the site of ongoing fighting between Syrian Army and Kurdish YPG forces.
Pentagon officials warned that Syria is at risk of having their planes shot down if they continue to fly in the area, however, where according to reports on the ground the Kurdish forces are attempting to gain full control over the city, and chase the Syrian military out of what districts it once held.

It sounds like a no-fly zone in Syria.

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Damascus says put up or shut up

Syrian regime jets risked an aerial confrontation with US warplanes on Saturday after flying over a battleground city in northern Syria despite warnings that bombing there could lead to American forces opening fire.

The US scrambled its own jets on Thursday after Assad regime aircraft dropped bombs on Kurdish forces in the city of Hasakah, dangerously close to US commandos operating on the ground.

The incident ended without shots being fired but the Pentagon warned that similar bombing raids could lead to US jets shooting down the Syrians. "The Syrian regime would be well advised not to interfere with coalition forces or its partners," a spokesman said.

It is believed to be the closest that American aircraft have come to opening fire on regime jets in the crowded skies above Syria

We shut up

The U.S. Army reportedly withdrew their military advisors from the provincial capital of the Al-Hasakah Governorate last night amid growing security concerns, local sources told Al-Masdar News this morning.
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by somebody in the US chain of command.

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native

MarilynW's picture

when the Ottoman Empire was sliced up by the European colonialists. They wouldn't be causing so much trouble trying to survive in the colonialist's made up countries of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey.

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tapu dali's picture

made up countries of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey.

See: Sykes-Pitot.

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There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.

tapu dali's picture

made up countries of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey.

See: Sykes-Pitot.

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There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.