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The Iraqi Kurds have established a link between the US-led coalition and the Kurds in Syria, the US anti-ISIS coalition envoy Brett McGurk said, without specifying which specific Kurdish party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) or the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) were behind the link up.
“And it was some of our friends in Iraq – our Kurdish friends in Iraq – who actually put us in touch with some of the Kurdish fighters in Kobani at the time to develop some contacts, allowed us to get some military equipment to them,” McGurk said.
“And then we worked very closely with Turkey – I was a part of this; I was in Ankara – to open a corridor for the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga to come into Kobani to help turn the tide of that battle. It was a historic moment, and over the course of the battle of Kobani, we killed 6,000 ISIS fighters. It was the first time they lost a battle and it really was the turning point,” he added.
“Had Kobani fallen, the whole border would have been gone to ISIS. So after that battle, when we met some of the fighters from Kobani and we said, look, how are we going to really take the fight to ISIS in some of these other areas? We have to recruit Arabs into the force,” McGurk said.
“And so you have to have an umbrella that embraces the Arab component of the force, with the key principle being – it’s our key principle in Syria – as areas are liberated from ISIS, they should return to the local people from those areas. That’s first and foremost our priority,” he added.
“So therefore we had to have an umbrella that would bring in as many people as possible – Kurds, Arabs, Christians, Syriacs, all these guys – working together as a cohesive force, not working together as different units, which is not militarily effective. And so [Us special operations] General Thomas was a part of that, and it’s actually been very effective,” he said about the creation of the Syrian Democratic Forces in October 2015. “
Again, as I said, all of our training classes are full. They’re full of Sunni Arabs, they’re full of Christians, they’re full of people from these areas who want to liberate their towns. So I think overall it has been successful,” the US envoy concluded.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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