Syria says it is supplying military aid to Kurds to fight ISIL
BEIRUT - Reuters
People watch as smokes rises from the town of Kobane at the Turkish border. AFP PhotoDamascus has provided military support to Kurdish forces to help them battle Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Syrian media has reported, in a move that would mean President Bashar al-Assad and his Western enemies could be backing the same forces against Islamist militants.
The main Syrian Kurdish party, which has repeatedly denied that it has cooperated with the Damascus government, described the report as propaganda.
Assad has mostly left the Syrian Kurds to their own devices and ceded control of some Kurdish areas in Syria to Kurdish militants while focusing his firepower on insurgents fighting to unseat him.
Kurds in Syria complain of years of marginalization under Assad but also fear Sunni Muslim militants.
A report on state news agency SANA on Oct. 27 denied a claim which it said some Kurdish members of the Syrian government had made that Damascus was not helping Syrian Kurds besieged by Islamic State, the most powerful anti-Assad militant group.
"The support provided by the government to Syrian Kurds is known and documented and comprehensive, including military support," SANA quoted the media source as saying.
It said that the aid included direct and indirect military support but did not say which groups were recipients or when Damascus last sent military aid to Kurds.
Salih Muslim, the co-chair of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) whose armed wing is leading the Kurdish fight against ISIL in northern Syria, told Reuters on Monday that no support had arrived from Damascus.
"They are making such propaganda but it's not true, completely wrong," he said. "They have never done anything for Kobane," he added, referring to the Syrian border town where Kurdish fighters are besieged by ISIL forces.
In Iraq, Kurds are one of the main Western allies against ISIL A week ago, United States air-dropped arms to help the Kurds in Kobane.