Turkish troops take control of Bursayah hill, which separates Afrin from the town of Azaz, Syria. (DHA-Depo Photos via AP)
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Turkey's war on a Syrian Kurdish militia that is closely aligned with the United States is forcing the group to give up positions against Daesh (ISIS) militants in the Syrian desert to defend against the advancing Turkish troops. Ankara's go-it-alone campaign against the Kurdish People's Protection Units, known as the YPG, in a region called Afrin is reshaping military alignments in northern Syria and forcing the U.S. to pause its mop-up operations against pockets of Daesh.But the U.S. is not supporting the defense of Afrin, and the Kurds are looking to Damascus for help, despite the Syrian government's pariah status in the international community.The move gives Assad particular leverage over the Kurdish self-administration at a time when global powers are jostling for influence in Syria.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's goals are unclear: the Kurds control a wide swath of northern Syria, and his ambitions may be tempered by the possibility of reigniting a full-blown Kurdish insurgency inside his own country.For now, Damascus may be the only partner for the Kurds in Afrin.
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