The U.S. military's withdrawal from northeast Syria is looking more like Dunkirk every day.
On Wednesday, the U.S. military had to call in an airstrike on one of its own ammunition dumps in northern Syria because the cargo trucks required to safely remove the ammo are needed elsewhere to support the withdrawal, Task & Purpose has learned.
Two F-15Es destroyed the LaFarge Cement factory between Kobane and Ayn Issa after all U.S. troops had left the area, said Army Col. Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
“Blowing the ammo was part of the plan,” Caggins told Task & Purpose. “Abandoning unguarded ammo would not be prudent.”
The White House first announced on Oct. 6 that a small number U.S. special operators in northeastern Syria would withdraw ahead of Turkey's invasion of Kurdish-held territory, but the Turkish military operation proved to be bigger than expected.
The Turks have advanced deeper into Kurdish territory and further to the west than the U.S. government thought they would, a senior defense official told reporters on Tuesday.
On Oct. 11, U.S. troops operating near Kobane came under Turkish artillery fire. No U.S. personnel were harmed.
The incident was the first significant indicator that the Turks would operate outside the safety zone they had said they were establishing in northeast Syria, the senior defense official said.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced on Oct. 13 that most U.S. troops would withdraw from Syria to avoid being caught between the warring sides.
A small residual force is expected to remain at the Al Tanf garrison – for now.