PRECISION

U.S. Troops’ Northern Syria Mission Expanded

Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

A road sign that shows the direction to Manbij city is seen in the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Syria March 1, 2017. Picture taken March 1, 2017.

A new influx of U.S. troops have an expanded mission in Northern Syria—discouraging Turkish troops or Russian-backed Syrian troops from attacking the liberated rebel territory of Manbij, and as well as keeping Turkish and Kurdish forces from fighting each other.

“It's designed to be a visible symbol to other parties there than Manbij has already been fully liberated,” and that no one else needs to intervene, or interfere, Navy Captain Jeff Davis told reporters Monday.

Davis said Central Command deployed a few more U.S. troops above the 500-troop cap inside Syria to handle the extra work, which Davis called a "reassurance and deterrence" mission.

Manbij is currently being governed by a “military council” of mostly Arab locals, but there's a Star Wars Bar hodgepodge of troops in the surrounding area with possible designs on taking the border town.

Davis said there's a convoy of Syrian strongman Bashar Assad's troops are camped on the western outskirts of Manbij, with a small number of Russian troops accompanying them.

There are also Turkish troops and their allies, as well as U.S.-baked Kurdish fighters in the area, and the U.S. Fears the Turks especially might try to take Manbij to shore up control of their shared southern border with Syria. The Turks and the Kurdish YPG both have embedded U.S advisers to keep them from clashing inadvertently or intentionally, but the extra U.S. Troops are added insurance.

“It's a...reminder to anyone who is looking to start a fight that the only fight should be going on is with ISIS,” he said.

Davis declined to comment on reports that the Americans are there to broker some sort of agreement between two sometimes-warring sets of U.S. allies.

—Kimberly Dozier