US-backed Kurdish fighters released yet another video of their forces striking a Turkish vehicle in northwest Syria last week.
The video shows a Kurdish fighter firing what the Military Times reported was either a US BGM-71 TOW or Iranian Typhoon anti-tank guided missile system, and blowing up a Turkish tractor.
The fighter firing the missile system is part of the US-backed YPG faction called Jaish al Thuwar, and the video was uploaded to the Facebook page of Jabhat al-Akrad, a sub-faction of Jaish al Thuwar, the Military Times reported.
Turkey views the Kurdish YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the PKK, which has been trying to set up its own Kurdish state within Turkey for decades.
And the two sides have been engaged in regular skirmishes and shelling exchanges near the Syria and Turkish border for at least a couple months.
On Aug. 5, the YPG posted a video of their fighters destroying a Turkish-backed rebel tank in northwest Syria, and in late April, the two sidesexchanged rocket fire, which Turkey says killed 11 YPG fighters.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that the US sells or supplies weapons to both Ankara and the YPG.
An Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson, Col. Joseph Scrocca, told Military Times that Jaish al Thuwar is allied with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighting ISIS, but they are not specifically supported in any way by the Coalition.
But Jabhat al-Akrad is supported by the Coalition, a senior fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, Kyle Orton, told Military Times.
While the Coalition is trying to distance themselves from the two YPG factions, Military Times reported, US support for the YPG and it’s factions has increasingly angered Ankara since May.
As a result, Turkey has begun to move away from the west and towards Russia. Ankara and Moscow recently agreed to build a pipeline through Turkey, which allows Moscow to bypass Ukraine, and last week, Turkey signed an agreement with Russia for the $2.5 billion purchase of Moscow’s advanced S-400 missile-defense system.
In an attempt to improve relations between the US and Turkey, Defense Secretary James Mattis plans to visit Turkey in late August.
Aaron Stein, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Business Insider that Mattis will probably tell Ankara that US support for the YPG is merely “tactical” and that Washington DC “will try to mitigate [their] security concerns” by helping take out PKK leaders. But he will also probably ask Ankara to keep such support quiet so that the US doesn’t lose YPG in the fight against ISIS.
It’s the “most logical way forward” Stein said.