In a critical battle, Washington's most effective allies in Syria turn their attention away from fighting ISIS and toward the militias of Bashar al-Assad.”>
HASAKAH, Syria U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters have Syrian President Bashar Assads militias under siege in the northern Syrian city of Hasakah, and they are leaving them two options: Resignation or die.
In a conflict where confederations shift kaleidoscopically and the potential consequences of unwanted clashes are apocalyptic, this battle has raised the prospect Washington will be drawn into a direct conflict with the Syrian regime even as the Obama administration continues to focus its war endeavour on the forces of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS .
The Americans key allies in the Syrian theater, the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units, or YPG, are now very clearly fighting both ISIS and Assad. The lines of demarcation are increasingly hard to draw in Hasakahand above it.
On Thursday, U.S. airplanes scrambled over the region when Syrian Air Force SU-2 4 attack airplanes launched strikes near the city.
A Defense Department spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, suggested that alliance personnels were on the ground there. He did not get into specifics, but as we have reported previously , numerous American and European advisers are very close to the action in Syria.
We view instances that place alliance personnels at risk with the utmost seriousness, Davis added, and we do have the inherent right of self-defense when U.S. forces are at risk.
Davis said this is the first time U.S. airplanes have been scrambled in response to Syrian bombing, and pointed out that the coalition has never before find the Assad regime take such action against the principally Kurdish YPG.
Only a few days ago, these Kurdish forcesin alliance with some Arab contingents backed by U.S. airstrikes and been endorsed by U.S. and other Western special forcesplayed a major role taking the strategic city of Manbij away from the fighters of the so-called Islamic State.
Now very confident, seasoned, and well-armed, the Kurds appear about to achieve a victory not just over Assads beleaguered partisans in Hasakah, but by extension against his strategic backers from Iran, Lebanese Hezbollahand Russia.
All the parties understand what a crucial turning point this represents.
Previously, the Assad regime and its supporters had acquiesced in the Kurdish operations against ISIS. Damascus was aware that the Kurds goal is to establish a federal autonomous( if not indeed independent from Damascus) region called Rojava along the northern Syrian frontier. Thats no secret.
But Damascus clearly thought it could address other threats first, putting its priority on crushing any remotely believable opposition, then perhaps turning on ISIS, which it initially helped foster, then taking care of the Kurdish problem one route or the other.
The Hasakah fighting brought along that tacit agreement to an end.
Moscow, hoping a bargain might yet be made for a truce, sent a delegation last week to try to broker a ceasefire, but there was none to be had.
The Kurds now reject any form of agreement and demand regime forces leave the province of Hasakah wholly, giving the YPG and its political limb, the Democratic Union Party( PYD ), complete control.