In March, the United States deployed military forces and vehicles in the Syrian city of Manbij, northeast of Aleppo. The city is under the control of Manbij Military Council which pertains to the Syrian Democratic Forces, Washington’s main ally in Syria. Jeff Davis, the official Pentagon spokesman, said in a news conference on March 6 that the goal of deploying these troops is “the deterrence and keeping focus on fighting ISIS”.
This US military action came with Turkey’s increasing pressure to force the People's Protection Units, which is a Kurdish-Syrian militia that is affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey, to leave Manbij. The militia entered the city in June 2016 and expelled ISIS after one month under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces and with an aerial as well as military support from the US-led International Coalition.
On March 9, Washington revealed the US military deployment of the “artillery” unit of the US marines near Raqqa. In the same context, the Washington Post explained that the new force is a “marines 11” unit equipped with an artillery battery that can fire 155-millimeter shells from howitzer artilleries. The force also included a rapid intervention unit and a first regiment Landing Team.
The new US administration has also given the US forces more flexibility in their operations in Syria, which led to a dramatic increase in civilian causalities as a result of the Coalition strikes over the past months. In fact, the rules of engagement of the US air operation in Syria used to require a precise identification of targets and the need to avoid civilian causalities as much as possible.
The change in the adopted rules of engagements indicates a change in the US strategy in Syria. This is what the present report attempts to extrapolate through presenting data and determinants, as well as extrapolating the expected scenarios of this strategy.
To read the report in full can download an PDF version