US-led coalition provided SDF troops with mission specific weapons to defeat ISIS in Raqqa: Official

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Arab fighters participating in the SDF-led battle for Raqqa. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

The United States has told Turkey it will take back weapons supplied to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Turkish government said on Thursday. But a coalition spokesperson did not confirm if they would force the SDF to hand back the weapons.

In an exclusive interview with ARA News, Col. Joe Scrocca, the US-led coalition’s Director of Public Affairs, said: “Coalition equipment provided to the SDF to fight ISIS will be limited and mission specific to ensure the Raqqa force has the necessary and appropriate support and equipment to achieve the military objective of liberating Raqqa.”

“This equipment and the resources will be metered out and specifically aligned with various tasks that the SDF are trying to accomplish to isolate and then liberate Raqqa,” the coalition official said.

“The Coalition is taking steps to provide transparency to the Turkish government on what equipment we are providing to the SDF, that the equipment is appropriate, only for operations in Raqqa, and that it doesn’t find its way someplace else,” Colonel Scrocca told ARA News.

Turkey has expressed worries the weapons provided to the Kurds in Syria could be used by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) against Turkey. However, Syrian Kurdish officials deny that the Syrian Kurds pose any threat to Turkey.

“We have posed no threat to Turkey, on the contrary we protected the borders in between us and Turkey,” Ilham Ahmed, a senior Kurdish official, told Voice of America in February.

Washington-based analyst Nicholas A. Heras, Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), told ARA News that the coalition is seeking to reassure Turkey that the weapons will be monitored.

“The Coalition is seeking to reassure the Turkish government that the weapons sent to the SDF will be sent to carefully selected units and the flow of weapons will be monitored closely by Coalition advisors,” he said.

“The U.S. is sending the signal to Turkey that it understands Turkish concerns and that Turkey should trust the Coalition that providing weapons to the YPG, as component of the SDF is absolutely necessary for the counter ISIS campaign in Syria,” he concluded.

On Thursday, the White House said that the SDF is the best force to take Raqqa.

“The SDF has been an effective fighting force, and we see the SDF as the best force to take back control over Raqqa, for example. And we’ve worked with them closely, certainly, in that arena. And they’ve done a very good job,” said Heather Nauert, a spokesperson for the US State Department.

However, she would not confirm if the US would support the Kurds after ISIS is defeated in Raqqa.

“But beyond that, I’m not going to characterize or get into hypotheticals about the future,” she concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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