The fact is that the politically paradoxical alliance is scoring military success. Since 2015 the allies have been forcing IS back village by village, town by town. The division of labour is clear: the Americans bomb from the air, the PKK fighters who officially call themselves "People's Protection Units" (YPG) in northern Syria, do the dirty work on the ground, supported by some "special forces". "It's going well for us," emphasised General Thomson during the podium discussion in Colorado. "They've had thousands of casualties. We've only lost two soldiers."
Last May, the Pentagon announced it was supplying the "SDF" with firearms, grenade launchers and armoured vehicles. "I think that was the right decision," said Colonel Ryan Dillon, U.S. Armed Forces spokesman in the Middle East, in an interview with Panorama. "The SDF has turned out to be the only force able to effectively fight against and conquer Islamic State."
A few days ago, Kurdish militiamen advanced into the former IS capital Raqqa on the Euphrates. They made it immediately clear who has their political loyalty. On the city's central square, they unfurled a huge banner bearing the image of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned in a Turkish jail for 18 years.
″Political affiliations pale on the battlefield″
We want to know from Colonel Dillon just how natural it is for the U.S. Army to cooperate with a Marxist cadre organisation. "What interests our soldiers is that our partners are capable of fighting," replies the U.S. officer. "The significance of their political affiliations pale on the battlefield."
But in reality, the political backgrounds and its pitfalls cannot be talked down. After all, the alliance is evidently presenting both sides with problems. "Ocalan is not a person worthy of respect," the U.S. embassy in Ankara tweeted in Turkish at the weekend. It is doubtful that this message is appeasing Turkish President Erdogan.