US mulls boosting Kuwait force for Syria, Iraq deployment: Report

March 9, 2017 7:30 am

US troops stand to attention next to an Abrams tank in Camp Buehring in the northwest of Kuwait, roughly 65 miles from the Iraqi border, on December 8, 2014. (Photo by AFP)

Washington is mulling the creation of a 1,000-strong Kuwait-based military force allegedly aimed at engaging Daesh in and .
Citing unnamed officials, Reuters said in Wednesday report that the administration of US President Donald Trump was considering bolstering the country’s Kuwait-based troops by around 1,000 to act as reserve in the battle against terrorism.
“This is about providing options,” said a US official speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that the deployment would differ from the existing US forces stationed in Kuwait.
The officials noted that the decision on whether to send the troops to Kuwait is part of an ongoing evaluation of Washington’s strategy to defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria, where some 6,000 US troops are currently deployed.
The officials refrained from mentioning if the rapidly deployable force has the support of US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.   
Meanwhile, a US defense official announced that a detachment of Marines had arrived in Syria close to Daesh’s de-facto capital of Raqqah.
The US-led military coalition operating in Iraq and Syria says it is working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to try to defeat Daesh in the militant-riddled northern Syrian city. However, there have been numerous reports of US-led airstrikes targeting Syrian civilians, military and infrastructure. 
Since 2014, the United States, along with a number of its allies, has been leading a so-called anti-terror campaign in Syria and neighboring Iraq.
The latest development comes as US-backed militant groups continue to gain territory in northern Syria.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced that it had sent additional US soldiers to northern Syria to deter infighting between rival forces in the region.
“We have made visible actions in deploying US forces as part of the coalition in and around Manbij to reassure and deter – that’s to deter parties from attacking any other parties other than Daesh itself,” Defense Department spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.
The US-backed SDF, which includes Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters, is currently in control of Manbij and Syria’s entire northern border with Turkey.
Ankara launched an offensive in August in Syria with the declared aim of supporting Free Syrian Army militants and rid the border area of Daesh terrorists and fighters from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the YPG.

Members of the US-backed SDF militant group stand on their military vehicle in northern Dayr al-Zawr province, Syria, February 21, 2017. (Photo by Reuters) 

In February, Turkey announced that after its forces complete their operations in Syria’s al-Bab, they will move towards the nearby Kurdish-held city of Manbij.
Ankara accuses the PYD and YPG of having links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group that has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.
On Tuesday, a senior Turkish official said the US must make a decision on whether to continue supporting the YPG or heed Ankara’s call and start supporting Turkish-backed militants in Syria.
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