Despite Turkish Threats, Trump Arms Kurds for Showdown Against ISIS

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U.S. forces, accompanied by Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters, drive their armored vehicles in Syria near the border with Turkey (Photo: DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP / Getty Images)

Unruffled by Turkey’s threats against American forces fighting with the Kurds, U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to supply weapons to the YPG, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units.

The YPG is part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.

U.S. elite forces are currently working with the SDF, which is also supported by U.S.-led coalition air strikes.

Turkey views the Kurdish forces as terrorists and a threat to Turkish sovereignty. Turkey previously threatened U.S. troops in areas near Turkey’s border with Syria.

Ilnur Cevik, a senior aide to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, said if YPG forces with their American advisers “go too far, our forces would not care if American armor is there, whether armored carriers are there.”

Cevik added, “All of a sudden, by accident, a few rockets can hit them,” he added, referring to American  forces.

Unruffled, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, said, “We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey. We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the U.S. is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally.”

The weapons will include ammunition, small arms, machine guns, heavy machine guns, construction equipment such as bulldozers and armored vehicles which the U.S. will “seek to recover” afterwards, according to a source for the BBC.

The U.S. views the Kurds as crucial to the takeover of Raqqa, Syria, ISIS’ de facto capital, as they have proven themselves to be one of the most organized and effective fighting forces against ISIS to date. The Kurds assured the U.S. they intend to exit Raqqa after the battle is won and leave the governance of the city to their Arab partners.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org