US assures Turkey over arming YPG in ISIL fight
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoThe U.S. military offered assurances to Turkey on June 1 over supplying arms to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), after Ankara called the move “extremely dangerous.”
“We are being transparent with Turkey on the details on what we are providing,” said Baghdad-based Pentagon spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon.
“We are maintaining full accountability of the weapons we are providing the SDF,” he said, referring to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-Syrian Arab alliance now moving in on ISIL’s Syria stronghold of Raqqa.
The SDF includes militants from the YPG, which is linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey says the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG, are linked to the PKK and calls on its allies to cease cooperating with them.
The PKK is also outlawed by the U.S., but Washington believes the YPG is the most effective fighting force against ISIL in Syria, thus causing tensions between the NATO allies.
In May, U.S. President Donald Trump approved arming the YPG to support the assault on Raqqa.
Turkey on May 30 said arming the YPG was an “extremely dangerous” move and urged Washington to reverse its “mistake.”
The arms going to the SDF could include anti-armor weapons like rocket-propelled grenades or TOW missiles, in addition to vehicles, AK-47s and small-caliber machine guns.
Dillon said any arms provided will be recorded by serial number.
“We will maintain that in our database, and we will share that information with allies to the north that are concerned about the weapons we are providing,” he said.