As Turkey and the Syrian Kurds lobby the Donald Trump administration on rival visions of a safe zone in northern Syria, a new proposal to deploy 10,000 Arab and Kurdish fighters to man it has prompted fresh speculation that a deal may be on the table.
Saudi Arabia’s Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported today that US, Turkish and Iraqi Kurdish officials “welcomed” a plan from Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba, a Sunni Arab tribal leader, to deploy between 8,000 and 12,000 fighters near the border. They would be drawn from his “elite forces” as well as Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish peshmerga fighters allied with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani.
This constellation would ostensibly replace the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the United States’ main ally in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in northern Syria. Turkey has been nagging Washington to scotch the alliance because of the YPG’s links to Kurdish rebels fighting the Turkish army who are formally designated as terrorists by both Ankara and Washington.
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