Northern Syria has always been the more difficult and violent section of Syria in the civil war. Aleppo and other cities have seen the most devastation. They’ve also witnessed the most fluid situation of occupants running the gamut of groups in Syria. According to Barbara Starr, who tweeted “US Special Operations Forces in Northern Syria for the first time are now accompanying, advising and assisting Turkish forces: Pentagon,” earlier today. Barbara Starr is a professional news journalist for CNN. She’s won an Emmy award and has been covering the Pentagon and national security issues for much of her career. Approximately 40 US Troops will accompany Turkish forces.

This is a large development and shows commitment to take more decisive action in the situation in Syria. ISIS has created a nearly impossible situation and poses a global threat. There’s so much mistrust in the Middle East between virtually every nation it’s probably a necessity to work alongside one another. Also, the United States SOF is the most effective fighting force on the planet. Their help and guidance are sorely needed on the battlefield.

This is good for the Turks and probably, the rebels who might be emboldened to take a stand against extremist occupants of their battlespace. Our strategic relationship with the rebels has been one of neglect. They’re in some ways under the tutelage and political protection of the West, but they’re abandoned on the battlefield. Even in Iraq, without a U.S. presence, very few (only Iraqi Special Operations) proved useful. Those forces had fought at war for a long time and benefited from a constant state of operational and training cycles.

This is a natural next step in what has been a slow boil of escalation in Syria. It feels like we’re nearly coming full circle. The actions are beginning to mirror the original rhetoric from lawmakers like Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham, who called for troops and a no-fly zone in Syria (and support Hillary Clinton’s proposal for one, today). Our troops need some form of protection from Syrian warplanes. The next step might be coordinating with Russia to create a no-fly zone for accompanying troops and humanitarian aid. That no-fly zone, as areas become pacified, would eventually grow and extend throughout the country. This is good news for the rebels.

This could serve in a giant reset. The real moderates could re-emerge with the confidence of victory and support. Under a no-fly zone, like a blanket in the dark with a flashlight, we could theoretically plan the next system of government with a host of partners. Assad is going to fall eventually. The no-fly zone leading towards a rebel victory similar to Libya might be the best method. However, it must be fundamentally different, and we can’t replicate the mistakes of both Libya and Afghanistan where crazed extremists moved in and bullied the average citizen.

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