Turkey angered by Pentagon’s support for Syrian Kurds

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SDF spokesman Talal Silo (C), accompanied by military leaders, speak to a press conference in Raqqa countryside. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Ilnur Cevik, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressed concerns about the Pentagon’s support for Kurds after CENTCOM published pictures of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) being trained by the US-led coalition.

The Pentagon has been one of the most fervent supporters of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Washington, blocking Turkey’s plans to undermine the Syrian Kurds.

“It seems the American generals are trying to create an image back home that they need the Kurds more than ever and that any operation they carry out against Daesh, especially in the city of Raqqa, should be carried out with the PYD forces,” Cevik said.

The Pentagon has been urging the Trump administration to arm the Kurds. Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, who recently visited the Raqqa frontline, said the Kurds need more heavy weapons to fight ISIS.

“Anti-tank weapons systems to address the vehicle-born IEDs. Certainly mortars would be something of help,” Votel said. “Things that they would need of a force that’s going to conduct an assault,” he said.

By the fall of 2016, Gen. Votel also asked the Obama administration to directly arm the Kurds, but this was rejected out of fears it would anger Ankara, reported the Washington Post.

The Pentagon and US army dubbed the Turkish plans to send rebels and Turkish troops as the ‘ghost army’ or ‘unicorn army’.

Also, the US army said the Kurds are definitely going to be involved in Raqqa, angering Turkey.

“I do anticipate there will be Kurds involved in the Raqqa assault. There are Kurds from Raqqa,” U.S. Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve (CJT-OIR), told reporters last Wednesday.

“There are going to be Kurds assaulting Raqqa for sure. The number, the size of them, and how many Kurdish units are participating in that, I can’t really say right now,” Townsend added.

“When you add up the photos and the remarks of Townsend it is clear that the American military has charted a course for itself which is clearly against Turkish interests,” Cevik said.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday suggested the Pentagon misled former President Barack Obama about the Syrian Kurdish forces could misinform the administration of Donald Trump.

“We do not want our ally, the US, to continue to ally with a terrorist organization that is targeting us,” said Cavusoglu.

“”Let’s be realistic. Conducting operations with the YPG means risking Syria’s future. The US should reverse such a mistake in no time,” Cavusoglu added.

On Sunday, the Pentagon submitted a plan to president Trump that would include the Kurds, but not Turkey.

“Approval of the [Pentagon’s] Raqqa plan would effectively shut the door on Turkey’s demands that Syrian Kurds, considered terrorists by Ankara, be denied U.S. equipment and kept out of the upcoming offensive,” the Washington Post reported.

“The U.S. military encouraged the formation of the SDF and is investing considerable energy to make it a viable counter-ISIS force,” Nicholas A. Heras, Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), told ARA News.

“American soldiers have also been fighting next to the SDF for the better part of two years. This is a situation where the U.S. military literally got to design and manufacture a local CT partner force. There is no incentive for the U.S. military to stop working with the SDF,” Heras said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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