Syria joins war in... Syria

There’s yet another twist in the ongoing invasion of Syria by Turkey. The Syrian army, backed by Russian forces and advisers, is reportedly joining the battle. It might not sound all that surprising for the military of a nation being invaded to come to their own defense, but Bashar al-Assad hasn’t controlled the northeastern portion of his country for years. And in an even stranger twist, the Syrian Kurds are welcoming his help.

Syria’s state news agency says government forces have entered the northern town of Tal Tamr that is close to Turkey’s border.

SANA said Monday morning that the Syrian army moved into the area to “confront the Turkish aggression,” without giving further details.

The report says residents of Tal Tamr that is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Turkish border welcomed the troops.

It did not say from which area the Syrian army marched toward the town.

This represents something of a shift in the dynamics of this conflict. For years now, the battles in the eastern region of Syria have been something of a proxy war between other international interests. The Americans were there helping the Kurds, who really weren’t fighting “for or against” Syria. In addition to beating down ISIS, they’ve been defending their own interests as part of an ongoing struggle to eventually establish their own formally recognized independent state. The Russians generally support Assad, but seem mostly interested in maintaining the warm water port they’ve established at Tartus. And ISIS was just being ISIS until they were effectively dispersed.

But now, if Syrian troops are actively fighting Turkish troops on their own soil, this may be turning into an actual war between Syria and Turkey. I doubt the Kurds can expect much in the way of actual support from Assad and they will likely come to regret siding with him, but they’re pretty much out of other options at this point. But that may not matter, because if Turkey really wants to get serious about this they could probably crush Syria. They have the largest army in the region by a fair margin and are bristling with both American and Russian military technology.

And what of the Americans? Well, as of this morning, there are reports indicating that President Trump may indeed be pulling us out of the country entirely.

The United States appears to be heading toward a full military withdrawal from Syria amid growing chaos , cries of betrayal and signs that Turkey’s invasion could fuel a broader war.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday that President Donald Trump had directed U.S. troops in northern Syria to begin pulling out “as safely and quickly as possible.” He did not say Trump ordered troops to leave Syria, but that seemed like the next step in a combat zone growing more unstable by the hour.

If this does turn into a full-blown war between Turkey and Syria, who does the United States root for? We clearly don’t support Assad, but Turkey is quickly turning into a Russian satellite state. With ISIS fighters escaping confinement and Iranian backed militias on the prowl, this is rapidly devolving into a toxic stew where there is no good outcome on the horizon. The Kurds should probably consider packing up and heading to northern Iraq. After that, perhaps the idea of just letting the remaining forces in Syria fight it out and kill each other off isn’t so crazy after all.