US, Russia seem to be allying against Turkey in Syria war

A convoy of US armored vehicles near the village of Yalanli, in Manbij, on March 5. Photographer: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

Bloomberg – The U.S. and Russia have found themselves teaming up for the first time in the war in Syria — against a country both call an ally: Turkey.

In Manbij, a town in northern Syria about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Turkish border, U.S. and Russia moved this week to effectively block a drive by Turkey to seize it. A U.S. deployment and a Russian-brokered deal with Syrian forces created buffer zones that headed off any Turkish drive against the Kurdish forces — seen by Washington as key allies against Islamic State, though Turkey views them as terrorists — who now hold the town.

As the outside powers fighting in Syria step up the fight to crush Islamic State, the battle is laying bare their often-conflicting loyalties. With all sides pushing into terrorist-held territory, the potential for clashes between the players is rising.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is at the center of this thanks to his military campaign, but he must keep allies like Syria and Iran on side even as tries to cooperate with the U.S. and Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comes to Moscow on Thursday with his defense minister for talks with Putin.

“This is a unique circumstance when the U.S. and Russia have found themselves thrown together against Turkey because of the Kurds, who are directly sponsored by Washington and get Russian support too,” said Alexander Shumilin, head of the Middle East Conflict Center at the Institute for U.S. and Canada Studies, a government-run research group in Moscow.

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