The U.S. military has begun arming Syrian Kurds in the effort to fight ISIS.
According to Maj. Adrian Rankine Galloway, the military is specifically aiding the Syrian Democratic Forces, providing them with ammunition, rifles, armor, radios, bulldozers, vehicles and engineering equipment.
The Defense Department, contemplating the decision to aid the Kurds for some time, “had stockpiled equipment in the event that President Trump made the decision that he did,” said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. Consequentially, the Democratic Forces should be able to receive all of the arms and weapons fairly quickly.
The Forces will only be given enough supplies and weapons to accomplish specific objectives related efforts to retake Raqqa, a Syrian city that has been under ISIS control since 2014.
“The (Syrian Democratic Force), partnered with enabling support from U.S. and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future,” said chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White in a statement earlier in May.
According to coalition spokesman Col. John Dorrian, the weapons will not be taken back after the specific missions are completed. However, the U.S. will “carefully monitor” where and how the weapons are used.
“Every single one” will be accounted for and the U.S. will “assure they are pointed at” ISIS –the common enemy, said Dorrian.
The military aid at hand also reinforces the fact that the U.S. supports the entire Syrian Democratic Force, Syrian Kurds (YPG), and the Syrian Arab Coalition.
President Donald Trump authorized this ‘limited’ arming of Syrian Kurds on May 8 to battle against terrorism.
“We support Turkey in the first fight against terror and terror groups like ISIS and the PKK, and ensure they have no safe quarter, the terror groups,” Trump stated during his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “We also appreciate Turkey’s leadership in seeking an end to the horrific killing in Syria. The Syrian civil war shocks the conscience of the whole world.”
“We also support any effort that can be used to reduce the violence in Syria and create the conditions for a peaceful resolution,” continued Trump.
The U.S. thus began providing arms and equipment to Arab fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces earlier this month through ground convoys, C-130s, airdrops, and other methods.
However, senior officials from Turkey, America’s long-time NATO ally, have protested against military aid, delaying the U.S. from arming the Kurds for some time.
Turkey believes the Kurdish fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces, also known as the YPG, is closely linked to an international terrorist group called the PKK, which has led attacks against Turkey for decades, killing tens of thousands of civilians.
During his visit to the White House in early May, Turkish President Erdogan called the YPG a “terrorist organization.” He stated the “there is no place for the terrorist organizations in the future of our region” and expressed his desire for America to use its own forces instead of arming others.
On the other hand, the U.S. does not see the YPG as connected to the PKK. It believes the YPG is the best force currently fighting ISIS in Syria, providing a path to victory.
According to defense officials, the U.S. has been in contact with Turkish officials, working to ease concerns about aiding the Syrian Kurds.
“We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey,” said White in a statement earlier this month. “We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the U.S. is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally.”
Have a tip we should know? email@example.com