The U.S. military is expanding its presence and infrastructure in northern Syria in order to fight ISIS and support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-led Raqqa campaign.
The United States has expanded a runway in Kobane to accommodate the large C-17 military plane needed to help with logistics for the push to retake the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, a U.S. defense official told the AFP.
The US has already seven bases in northern Syria from where it deploys its forces in support of the Kurdish-led SDF. The Syrian government has continued to oppose the US presence, fearing they could make the Kurds in Syria less dependent on Damascus.
SDF officials have suggested that these bases in Tabqa, Kobane, and Rumelan could be an alternative to the US base in Turkey’s Incirlik, and reduce US dependence on Turkey for anti-ISIS operations–supporting the SDF that Turkey opposes.
Turkey has threatened to cut off US access to the NATO-base in Incirlik, if the US continues to support the Kurds.
Col. Joe Scrocca, Director of Public Affairs for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), told ARA News that Incirlik remains an important base for the US-led coalition against ISIS.
“Incirlik is a valuable resource and Turkey a critical ally in its fight to defeat ISIS In Iraq and Syria. Logistics is the key to a successful military campaign,” he said.
“The better the Coalition is able to support its partner forces in their fight against ISIS the more successful the campaign will be,” Colonel Scrocca said.
“It is clear that the U.S. military is establishing the infrastructure on the ground in SDF-controlled areas of northern Syria to have an indefinite presence beyond the counter-ISIS campaign,” Nicholas A. Heras, Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), told ARA News.
“These airbases, particularly Rumelan and Kobani, are key to this infrastructure. It signals that the U.S. military is preparing for an indefinite stabilization mission, an American military mandate, over areas of eastern Syria conquered from ISIS by the SDF,” he said.
“If the U.S. military wants to establish air bases in Syria to fit its needs, there will be little threat from Assad, Russia, and Turkey. None of these actors would want to risk challenging the U.S. military on the ground,” Heras told ARA News.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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