A new US-Russian-Turkish military buildup over Syria: In unison or at odds?

The US and Russia are in the process of a military buildup in the Kurdish areas of northern Syria. It is ranged along a narrow strip of land 85 km long, stretching from Hassakeh in the east up to the Kurdish town of Qamishli on the Syrian-Turkish border. Facing them from across that border is a parallel buildup of Turkish strength. This highly-charged convergence of three foreign armies athwart a tense borderland is reported here by DEBKAfile’s military sources. It is too soon to determine whether the three armies are operating in sync or at odds, especially in view of the bitter relations between Moscow and Ankara.

American Special Operations troops and Air Force attack helicopters landed first at Remelan airport. They are the first US troops to operate from a ground base in Syria, accommodated in living quarters built for them in advance by a US engineering corps unit. The airport runway has been widened for US warplanes.

Next came two Russian military missions on Jan. 16.  One group, led by a general and consisting of air force and Special Operations officers, is preparing to take over a small abandoned base in Syrian army-controlled territory just 80 km from the new US facility at Remelan, and adapt it for Russian use.
The other group, which consists of intelligence officers – some from Russia’s FSB federal security service, the FSB – indicates that Moscow has decided it is high time for professionals to protect the classified information moving around the Russian Task Force in Syria and safeguard it from reaching the wrong hands. .
The abandoned base is less than 3.5 km from the Turkish border, and would act as a Russian barrier between US forces in northern Syria and the Turkish border contingents.


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