USA starts arming Syrian Kurds closing in on ISIS stronghold
- Author: Leroy Wright May 31, 2017,
May 31, 2017, 18:53
"The SDF, partnered with enabling support from US and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future", Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement.
Currently, the USA -led coalition against the IS is backing the SDF, comprised of mostly the People's Protection Units (YPG) Kurds and some local Arabs. In August 2016, Ankara launched its own military operation inside Syria, targeting ISIL and Kurdish groups, called Euphrates Shield.
"The equipment and reinforcements come and go daily ... but in the last few weeks they have brought in more heavy military vehicles, TOW (missiles) and armored vehicles", he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The weapons sent to the SDF's Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) include AK-47s and small-calibre machine guns, Rankine-Galloway added. The area has been considered a "deconflicted" zone under a U.S.
Weapons, training and airstrikes by the coalition have aided ground forces in both Iraq and Syria, allowing Iraq's military, Iraqi Kurdish fighters and Syrian Kurdish fighters to retake some 55,000 square kilometres (21,235 square miles) of territory from the Islamic State extremists in the almost three-year fight.
Earlier this month, Donald Trump authorized the Department of Defense to supply arms to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) despite concerns from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, which considers Kurdish fighters in Syria to be terrorists.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the shelling took place shortly before sundown as residents were preparing to break their daytime fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. In March 2015, the Iraqi Emergency Response Division was disqualified from receiving US equipment and training, coalition spokesman Dillon said. The report detailed the deliberate demolishing of civilian homes as well as razing and burning whole villages previously captured by IS.
On May 8 the Pentagon announced that President Donald Trump had authorized the "limited" arming of Syrian Kurds to help in the fight against the terror group, an announcement that drew immediate protests from senior Turkish officials.
"We can't destroy one terrorist group with another one".