KOBANE – The US State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Friday said that the US has been working on diversifying the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) by recruiting more Arabs.
“I can say that the force that successfully took Shaddadi [from ISIS] I think a few weeks ago was 60 percent Kurd and 40 percent Arab and other elements. And this reflects some of the training that we’ve been doing, DOD – the Department of Defense, has been conducting that has seen greater influx of Arab fighters. I think they just graduated a class of 200 additional Arabs who are joining this fight. There’s another class poised to be – graduate that’s another additional 200,” Toner said.
“We’re cognizant of the need to have diversified forces conducting these kinds of operations, given the sensitivities of the communities that they’re liberating. And then specifically on Raqqa, we have seen – I think the Kurds themselves have said publicly that they understand the political dimensions of this fight and that it would need to be an Arab – a predominantly Arab force liberating Arab areas in Syria,” the spokesperson said.
The US government is also trying to make them more diversified. “But we’re certainly sensitive to the viewpoints and the sensitivities of these populations,” Toner said.
The spokesman has indirectly denied that they supplied the SDF with TOW missiles and American-made vehicles.
“I think what we’ve said before holds, which is that there’s fortunately – or unfortunately, rather, there’s a lot of liberated, shall we say, equipment that’s being used on the battlefield. It’s impossible for us to say where that equipment has come from or where it’s sourced from. We just don’t have the clarity on that,” he said
Speaking to ARA News, Abdullah Qattab al-Saif, leader of FSA Shield Brigade, said that for the Raqqa operation “50% of gathers are Arabs, and 50% are Kurds”.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News
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