The mobilization of Syrian troops comes as Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria face an incursion from neighboring Turkey. Ankara launched a cross-border military operation with the stated goal of creating a “safe zone” along the border. The Turks see Kurdish fighters in Syria as terrorists allied with Kurdish guerrillas in Turkey itself.
The Kurds in Syria previously enjoyed the protection of the US, which used the Kurdish forces as ground troops for their campaign against the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). The protection, however, was de facto withdrawn last week by President Donald Trump, who pulled out US troops that had previously been embedded with the militias.