US reassures Turkey: We will keep account of weapons provided to Syrian Kurds

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A Kurdish fighter from the YPG securing a checkpoint in Kobane suburb. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

The US-led coalition against ISIS will keep account of every single weapon supplied to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in order to allay Turkish concerns, a coalition spokesman said.

“All of the elements of the SDF who are receiving equipment must pass our vetting process. They will also make an obligation and sign to fight only ISIS and to uphold the laws of armed conflict,” US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon said.

“The SDF commanders will sign for, by serial number, all the equipment that we are giving and we’ll maintain that in our database. And we will share that information with allies to the north who are concerned about the weapons that we are providing,” he said, with reference to NATO-ally Turkey.

“We will have advisors as well that are going to be with our SDF elements. And as much as they can, they will be with them as they are advising them in the seizure of Raqqa. And any misuse that does not go towards fighting ISIS or is found used elsewhere, could potentially curtail any further support on what we may give to them in the future,” the coalition spokesman said.

The Turkish government has strongly objected the arming of the Kurds in Syria. However, since the Kurds are the only force capable of fighting ISIS in Raqqa, the Trump administration decided to continue to support them.

Arming Kurds Ahead of Raqqa Operation 

The United States has begun sending small arms to Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State (ISIS) group in northern Syria. The Pentagon confirmed that the weapons shipments began ahead of an upcoming offensive to recapture Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS in northern Syria.

“We have begun to transfer small arms and vehicles to the Kurdish elements” of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said on Tuesday.

The weapons sent to the SDF’s Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) include AK-47s and small-calibre machine guns, Rankine-Galloway added.

US President Donald Trump earlier this month approved arming the YPG fighters, angering Turkey. The Pentagon said then that the YPG are “the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future”.

Turkish officials have warned the US that its decision to arm Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Syria could end up hurting Washington.

Ankara says YPG fighters are linked to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) inside Turkey, who have been in fight with the Turkish authorities since 1984–a conflict that has claimed the lives of over 40,000 people.

Turkey considers the Kurdish forces to be “terrorists” and fears any weapons sent to the YPG could end up in the hands of the PKK.

The SDF has been encircling Raqqa since November. The US-backed force has now advanced to within a few miles of the ISIS stronghold on several fronts, and this month captured the strategic town of Tabqa and the adjacent dam.

Following the capture of Tabqa, the SDF said it will soon begin a final attack to capture Raqqa.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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