Syrian Kurdish forces took near complete control of Hasaka city on Tuesday as a ceasefire ended a week of fighting with the government, consolidating the Kurds’ grip on Syria’s northeast as Turkey increased its efforts to check their influence.
The Kurdish YPG militia, a critical part of the U.S.-backed campaign against Islamic State, already controls swathes of northern Syria where Kurdish groups have established de facto autonomy since the start of the Syria war in 2011.
Although U.S. forces in areas controlled by the Kurds declined to be interviewed, there is evidence everywhere of their presence and the focus on Mosul. The United States, in both Iraq and Syria, has sought out proxy ground forces, backed by air power, to fight the Islamic State. It is a policy that recorded a recent success with the recapture of Ramadi by Iraqi forces, but Mosul, one of the first major prizes to fall into the hands of the Islamic State, will provide a significant test for both the Iraqis and Kurds. And U.S. officials say it could be many more months before local forces have the training and equipment needed to move on a city where the militants have hardened defenses.
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