Pentagon seeks to continue arming ‘partners’ in Syria
WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency
The Pentagon is seeking to arm up to 65,000 members of a “U.S.-partnered force” in Syria, including the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), according to its 2019 fiscal year budget proposal.
In the proposal submitted to the U.S. Congress for approval in February, Pentagon requested $300 million to arm and equip its partners in Syria for the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Some $250 million was also requested for building a “border security” force in Syria.
The full report - FY 2019 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Request Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund (CTEF) - seen by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, shows the U.S. administration’s willingness to arm and equip 30,000 for conducting ongoing combat missions against ISIL in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, and 35,000 “Internal Security Forces” in liberated areas across the country.
Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group due to its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“To accomplish U.S. military objectives, partner force generation in Syria will be comprised of local forces that are demographically representative, appropriately vetted, trained, and equipped to ensure a safe and secure environment and capable of countering ISIS,” part of the budget proposal read, using another acronym for ISIL.
According to the proposal, the Pentagon plans to allocate $162.6 million of the $300 million on weapons, equipment, and vehicles, $8 million on base life support which provides basic humanitarian needs, $28 million on transportation and staging costs, and $101.5 million on operational sustainment.
Among the weapons being planned to be sent include 25,000 AK-47 automatic rifles, 1,500 light machine guns, 500 heavy machine guns, 400 RPG-7 rocket launchers, 95 sniper rifles, 20 60mm mortars and 60 120mm mortars.
Along with its total of $47 million cost, the Pentagon also requested an additional $24 million for ammunition of these weapons.
The U.S. has long supported the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing YPG in the anti-ISIL campaign, straining ties between Ankara and Washington.