Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), on Sept. 10 held a closed-door meeting with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) commander Mazloum Kobani during a visit to northeast Syria, Kurdish outlet Medya News reported on Sept. 14.
The topic of the meeting was reportedly the U.S. stance regarding the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), also known as Rojava, and the impacts of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan on the region.
The cooperation and support of the U.S. with the SDF will continue, McKenzie told Abdi, according to a source who spoke to Medya News on condition of anonymity.
During the meeting, McKenzie said that the SDF and the Afghan army were in no way alike as the SDF has organized itself effectively and is able to resist any form of attack, the sources told Medya News.
The U.S. general expressed his view that the political structure and environment in North and East Syria could not be evaluated in the same context as Afghanistan.
McKenzie further said that the U.S. is determined to stay in northeastern Syria “to continue the successful partnership between the U.S. forces and SDF in the fight against ISIS.”
McKenzie said that U.S. forces will continue to protect the oil fields in NE Syria so as they do not fall into the hands of ISIS who could use the oil for revenue.
He further said that the U.S. will provide support with reconstruction efforts and is fully engaged with a number of projects already, with more planned.
The U.S. delegation assured Kobani that the U.S. will be doing everything it can “to make sure that the AANES will be represented in any future talks regarding the future of Syria.”
The U.S. began its military partnership with the SDF under former President Barack Obama during the siege of Kobane by ISIS in 2014.
In October 2019, the then U.S. President Donald Trump Donald ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from Syria's north, opening the way for Turkey to launch a new military operation in the region.
Under the new U.S. administration of President Joe Biden, the U.S. has said it is “reviewing” the situation, with around 900 U.S. soldiers still based in North East Syria.
Turkey perceives the SDF as a terrorist organization due to its links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The Turkish military has launched military operations into Syria to drive the group away from its border.