The US military will not escalate its troop deployment in Syria to carry out joint patrols with Turkish armed forces, a top general said Friday, mentioning that the reason is to eventually reduce the number of US forces in the country.
U.S. troop levels in Syria, which number around 1,000, have been under intense scrutiny since President Donald Trump last year summoned their complete withdrawal.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that the Pentagon was preparing to deploy around 150 more military personals to conduct ground patrols with Turkish Military.
But Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said the new mission would not require additional deployments in the country.
“We’re not going to increase our footprint on the ground in order to conduct those patrols,” McKenzie said during a trip to Baghdad while adding that troop levels can fluctuate as forces transit into and out of Syria.
“We’re going to do patrolling with the Turks (and) we’ll manage that within the current number while actively seeking opportunities to get smaller over time.”
Turkey also perceives the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which has been at war with the Turkish state for the last 41 years.
The YPG was established in 2004 as the armed wing for the Kurdish leftist Democratic Union Party. It expanded its boundaries and operations rapidly in the Syrian Civil War and end up dominating over other armed Kurdish groups.
Ankara has long demanded the US support to push back the YPG terror group and developing a safe zone in northern Syria,
YPG group terrorizes locals and poses a threat to Turkey. The PKK has killed over 40,000 people in Turkey including women, children, and infants in its decades-long terror history.
The YPG has also been criticized by Turkey for its alleged support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, especially after the rebellion movement in southern Turkey that began in 2015.
As a step toward addressing Ankara’s concerns, the US has started carrying out the joint patrols with Turkey, with the first land patrol on Sunday.