Pentagon proposes plan for Syrian Kurdish allies to partner with Assad against ISIS

The Pentagon has proposed a plan suggesting that the Syrian Kurdish allies, involved in the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS), consider forming a partnership with the Syrian regime.

This proposal is part of a comprehensive reevaluation of the United States’ Syria policy, currently in progress at the State Department.

Notably, input from Turkey, a key NATO ally, is being sought for this review, according to sources “familiar with the discussions” who spoke to Al-Monitor under the condition of anonymity.

The outlines of the proposed strategy were taken up during a meeting convened by the White House National Security Council (NSC) at the request of the Department of Defense for an Interagency Policy Committee (IPC) bringing together representatives from the State Department, the CIA and other relevant stakeholders, which took place on Jan. 18 at the “sub” or desk officer level, the sources confirmed.

The sources did not elaborate on the substance of the Pentagon’s proposal, noting merely that its purpose was to “protect” the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against ISIS in the medium to long term.

The sources declined to comment on the elephant in the room, which is whether the meetings presage an eventual withdrawal of an estimated 900 US Special Forces currently deployed in northeast Syria, which the Biden administration has repeatedly stated both publicly and in private conversations with the SDF leadership is not in the cards, even as the State Department carries out a fresh review of its Syria policy. To be sure, there are growing indications that a withdrawal may be inevitable if not imminent amid escalating tensions between Iran-backed forces and the United States in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault on Israel, analysts say.

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