U.S. forces trained the SDF, a rebranded version of the YPG terror group, for a possible operation by Turkish forces in northeastern Syria, Foreign Policy magazine reported Tuesday.
Citing a U.S. Army officer who worked with the group, the magazine said the SDF was taught sophisticated battlefield tactics, including how to build a network of tunnels beneath key towns in northeast Syria as a contingency against a Turkish military campaign.
The officer told Foreign Policy that the group started to work on tunnels after Turkey seized Afrin, Syria in 2018.
The officer also said U.S. troops conducted several rehearsals with the SDF on how to coordinate in case of a Turkish operation as well as training to build a “defense in depth,” a military strategy that seeks to cause a delay to an attacking force.
A former U.S. Army officer who also worked with the SDF confirmed the “group built tunnels as a contingency” against Turkey, said the report.
It added that the tunnels and other defenses were likely set up as part of preparations for an eventual U.S. withdrawal.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria — Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch — to eradicate threats from Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist group.
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