Turkey Prepares for Possible Offensive Against U.S. Partners in Syria

Turkey appears to be planning a new military incursion against five Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria. Turkey’s use of drones will likely be a crucial element in any new offensive. Since May 2021, Turkey has significantly escalated the frequency of its drone strikes against Kurdish targets in Syria and northern Iraq that it claims are members of terrorist organizations. However, Ankara’s growing aggression in northeast Syria against U.S.-partnered Kurdish forces undermines U.S. counterterrorism operations and regional stability as well as likely helping Assad and Russia consolidate their power in the area. 

The Biden administration should respond by asserting greater command over U.S.-controlled airspace and publicly increasing joint military efforts with America’s Kurdish partners. Washington should not empower Moscow to mediate or insert itself into Turkish-SDF tensions. Congress and the Department of Defense should not consider the sale of any aircraft such as F-16s or air combat-related equipment to Turkey unless it adopts new operational procedures that ensure U.S. partners are not subject to attack.

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JINSA Staff Contributors

Ari Cicurel – Senior Policy Analyst
Sam Millner – Policy Analyst
Blaise Misztal – Vice President for Policy

This brief was made possible by the generous support of the Gettler Family Foundation and a portion of the research was conducted on the Benjamin Gettler International Policy Trip.