'US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been left flailing as Washington desperately struggles to avoid being shut out of Syria by its own allies – following a crisis it helped provoke just days ago.
For all the backpedaling and reframing the US officials are now doing, the chronology of the volte-face from Afrin to Ankara is startlingly straightforward.
US announces a 30,000-strong Kurdish YPG-led Border Security Force (BSF) to stave off a Islamic State “resurgence,” operating out of the quarter of Syria's territory that the Kurdish minority now controls.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls BSF an “army of terror” and promises to “strangle it before it is born,” saying it will imminently invade the north-western enclave of Afrin. Ankara says the US did not consult it over BSF, and insists Washington broke its promise to no longer arm YPG, whom Turkey views as separatist terrorists.
Tillerson to media: “That entire situation has been mis-portrayed, mis-described, some people misspoke. We are not creating a Border Security Force at all.”
Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Adrian Rankine-Galloway says of the 8,000-10,000 YPG militiamen in Afrin: "We don't consider them as part of our 'Defeat ISIS' operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them. We are not involved with them at all."'
Read more: How US went from supporting Syrian Kurds, to backing Turkey against them – in just nine days
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