Trump to Arm Syrian YPG Fighters

The Syrian YPG fighters are Kurdish fighters working as part of a coalition with US military forces to defeat ISIS and retake the Syrian city of Raqqa. Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States and they strongly opposed the White House plan to arm the YPG fighters because they believe the YPG is part of the larger Kurdish PKK fighters that have been fighting in Turkey against the government since 1984.

President Trump has approved a plan to directly arm Kurdish forces fighting in Syria, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, inflaming already strained ties with Turkey and putting the U.S. military a step closer to seizing a remaining Islamic State stronghold.

Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said the president made the decision on Monday and described the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, as “the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future.” For more than a year, the U.S. military has been advancing plans to capture Raqqa, the Syrian city that is the Islamic State’s de facto capital, as the final major step in its nearly three-year effort to defeat the militant group.

“We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey,” White said in a statement. “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.”…

Raqqa is a major Syrian city that lies only 50 miles south of the Syrian-Turkey border. Turkey fears that some of those US supplied weapons will make their way north into Turkey and be used against the Turkish government forces. US officials believe that arming the YPG fighters to help drive ISIS out of Raqqa is more important and worth the risk.

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