US confirms small arms, ammunition deliveries to PYD
The United States on May 30 said it has begun transferring small arms, ammunition and vehicles to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian Kurdish group which Ankara regards as terrorist for its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway confirmed the shipments to “Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF],” but did not detail the kinds of arms and vehicles sent to the group.
The SDF is a multi-ethnic coalition of forces that the U.S. has partnered with to carry out the ground war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in northern Syria, vexing Ankara due to the PYD’s prominent role.
Turkey considers the PYD and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), as offshoots of the PKK, but the U.S. does not view the PYD similarly, instead relying on the group extensively in the battle against ISIL in northern Syria.
The U.S. decision to directly arm the group, announced just one week before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Washington on May 16, strained relations with Ankara.
In announcing the decision the Pentagon said the U.S. is “keenly aware” of Turkey’s security concerns.