On April 27, 2016, fresh U.S. troops arrived in Rojava, the Kurdish populated region of Syria, to support local groups in their fight against ISIS.
By sending troops, the U.S. is supporting Kurdish autonomy and probable independence in Syria, and is actively supporting them in taking control of the lands that they officially claimed last month. This has so far manifested in coalition air strikes against ISIS to weaken their positions south and west of the current front lines. As they press westward toward the town of Manbij, Kurdish control of Syria’s north is becoming increasingly certain.
There’s just one problem. The western Kurdish region of Afrin is also a part of this new Syrian Kurdish semi-state, and they’re pushing eastward to unify with the western part. In doing so, they’re attacking and taking over territories controlled by the Free Syrian Army, which the U.S. and NATO have also supported since the beginning of the conflict in their own fight against both the Syrian government and ISIS.
As a result we’re now in a bizarre situation where two sides in a many-sided conflict are fighting each other with American weapons, with the full support of the U.S. government.
It gets better…
To make this situation even more odd, Russia is doing much the same thing with the Assad regime and Syrian Kurds. After a half-year military engagement in direct support of the Syrian regime, which cost thousands of Syrian lives and destabilized their relationship with Turkey, Russia has continued to voice their support for Syria’s Kurds and back it up in the form of arms and the promise that they would intervene if Turkey attempted to cross the border to attack them.
Before, regions under the control of the Assad regime were almost entirely cut off from Kurdish territories. But now, conflicts are flaring up between Assad and Rojava on multiple fronts, putting Russia in a conflicted position much like the U.S.’ own.