The US-led coalition’s spokesperson Colonel John Dorrian said that they have delivered armored vehicles to the SDF-linked Syrian Arab Coalition, and not to the Kurds in order not to anger Turkey.
The Kurds, who are in fight with ISIS as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), have also made clear that they have not received heavy weapons from the US-led coalition.
“Most recently, the coalition provided several Guardian armored vehicles to provide the Syrian-Arab Coalition with increased survivability from ISIS’s small arms and improvised explosive device threats,” the coalition spokesperson said.
“The Syrian Arab Coalition was the organization that received these. Again the Syrian Arab Coalition is a part of the Syrian Democratic Forces. So it’s a group that includes the Syrian Arab Coalition,” he said.
Also, Redur Xelil, spokesperson of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), denied in a statement on Wednesday that the YPG has received weapons or armoured vehicles from the US-led coalition.
This while SDF officials confirmed they have received weapons.
Turkish government’s media was immediately angered by the delivery of the vehicles, worried that they could go to the Kurds.
“The US must support the SDF in the same way they have supported the Iraqi army and Peshmerga. US mustn’t bow down to pressure from Turkey,” said Adel Murad, a member of the Iraqi Kurdish ‘Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’.
However, the coalition spokesperson said they don’t have the authorities to provide heavy arms to the Syrian Democratic Forces. “We don’t have authorities in place to do that, so our authorities are for giving them to the Syrian Arab Coalition and that’s what we did,” Colonel Dorrian said.
Although some local media reported that the vehicles were delivered by the new Trump administration, coalition officials say that the delivery of these vehicles was decided by the previous Obama administration.
“The transport and the divestiture of these vehicles have been in the works for months,” he said. “So this is something that’s been in the works for months. It’s been authorized using existing authorities from the previous administration.”
“And the timing is that, you know, the Syrian Arab Coalition is getting ready to continue their operations to isolate Raqqa. And as they approach the city and get into tough fighting [against ISIS], this capability is going to increase their survivability, their ability to withstand small-arms fire as well,” he concluded.
In the meantime, the Kurdish-led SDF forces –which include the Syrian Arab Coalition– continue to advance and strengthen defensive positions four to five kilometers west of Tabqa Dam in the countryside of Raqqa.
“As local Arab tribes join the SDF ranks, the [US-led] coalition will continue to bolster these fighters’ abilities with training, weapons and equipment as we have already done for more than 3,000 members of the SAC,” the coalition spokesperson said.
“The resources that we’re providing to the Syrian Arab Coalition have helped them be successful in fighting Daesh [ISIS]. And that benefits not just the SDF, but that benefits all of our nations because this is a brutal enemy,” Colonel Dorrian said.
“And what they’ve been doing is trying to isolate Raqqa so that the enemy is unable to do external operations beyond Syria. So, it provides the same kind of benefits to all of us,” he concluded.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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