US to Arm Syrian Kurds

Caption: YPG fighters in northeastern Syria, April 25 (File Photo)Caption: YPG fighters in northeastern Syria, April 25 (File Photo)

US President Donald Trump has approved a plan to arm the Syrian Kurdish militia—an important US ally in Syria in the fight against IS.

The Pentagon said the move is significant because it supports the notion that the Syrian Democratic Force is the fighting force that will eventually go in to Raqqa, a city in Syria’s center that has been under the control of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group since 2014.

The move also reinforces the idea that the entire Syrian Democratic Force, Syrian Kurds (YPG) and the Syrian Arab Coalition, has the backing of the US, NBC News reported.

Trump and members of his Cabinet spoke about it during a meeting late Monday at the White House with Secretary of Defense James Mattis joining by video teleconference.

The order has been signed and that “allows the process to begin to function”, one official told NBC News. Once the order comes to the Pentagon, the US can begin providing the Syrian Kurds with arms and equipment fairly quickly since some equipment is pre-positioned.

The officials said the equipment could be delivered by any number of methods: Ground convoys, C-130s and air drops are all possible, depending on what the equipment is and the area.

It is unclear whether the US may provide bigger equipment.

The news about the US plan to arm Syrian Kurds comes, as the Trump administration mulls sending as many as 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan, a military official told NBC News, and as the White House makes moves it believe will help American forces “start winning” again in the region.

The Turks will be notified about the decision on arming Syrian Kurdish forces soon and the Pentagon expects a strong reaction.

In March, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Turkey to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who sees the YPG as terrorists.

Erdogan is expected to travel to Washington D.C. to meet with the president next week—their first face-to-face meeting since Trump took office—and one in which divisions over US support for the Syrian Kurdish militia are likely to be a point of contention.


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