The Pentagon said on Tuesday that two U.S. service members were injured over the weekend, one in Iraq and another in Syria.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook in a press conference on Thursday refused to comment on photos that showed US special forces in Syria with insignia of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on their shoulders, but did say on Thursday that these forces are trying to blend in.
“I’m — first of all, you know our policy with regard to our special operations forces, that we’re not going to talk very much about their activities, where they are and what they’re doing for obvious reasons,” he said. “They’re carrying out a mission; they are exposing themselves to significant risk. And I’m not going to do anything up here that in any ways gives anyone the ability to identify where our forces are operating and what they’re up to at any moment in time,” he added.
However, he did say that the US special forces sent to Syria’s Kurdish region are trying to blend in. “What I will say is that special operations forces when they operate in certain areas do what they can to, if you will, blend in with the community to enhance their own protection, their own security.”
“And special operations forces in the past have worked with partners, and in the past have conducted themselves in such a way that they — that they might operate in an atmosphere in which they are supportive of that local force in their advise and assist role,” he stated.
The Kurdish YPG is leading member in the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forcers (SDF) fighting ISIS in northern Syria.
US coalition spokesman Colonel Steve Warren on Twitter said “US Special operators will often wear patched from their partner forces as a sign of partnership.”
Moreover, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner acknowledged the presence of US forces, but did not want to talk about the pictures.
“I would only say that we acknowledged several weeks ago that Special Operations Forces would be present in northern Syria in the capacity of the advise-and-assist role that we have clearly laid out that they’re playing on the battlefield in coordination with the SDF,” he said.
Syrian Kurds have welcomed the support from the US Special Forces and the fact they are wearing YPG insignia.
Speaking to ARA News, Kurdish politician Idris Nassan said: “Of course, Kurds are happy with the international support and volunteers joining fighting against ISIS but they still feel that more is needed in this side and the international community should do more to defeat terrorists militarily and politically. At this stage it is important to officially recognise the Kurdish sovereignty.”
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