US fully transparent to Turkey about weapons delivered to YPG: Embassy
ANKARAThe U.S. embassy in Ankara has denied recent Turkish media reports that the U.S. had sent arms to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, stressing that Washington was fully transparent to Turkey about the weapons sent to the group.
“Inaccurate reports by several outlets over the past few days have erroneously claimed that the United States has sent ‘tanks’ and ‘hundreds of truckloads of weapons’ into Syria to support the YPG,” the embassy said in a written statement on Aug. 3.
It said the reports by state-run Anadolu Agency ignored basic facts about the current situation in Syria, adding that the U.S. had not provided tanks to any groups fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.
“The majority of U.S. military assistance, which consists primarily of light weapons and ammunition, has supported Syrian Arab Coalition [SAC] elements of the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces]. The Syrian Arabs who comprise the SAC are fighting to expel Daesh and regain control of their homes. A much smaller percentage of weapons given to Kurdish elements of the SDF are limited, specific to task and are only provided due to their importance in helping achieve the goal shared by all of us – i.e., the capture of Raqqa and the destruction of Daesh. We continue to provide full transparency to the government of Turkey as to what weapons are being delivered to the YPG,” it said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.
The vast majority of trucks crossing the Iraqi/Syrian border do not contain military equipment or supplies, according to the U.S. embassy, instead they contain foodstuffs, medicine, and other essential supplies needed to ensure the health and safety of internally-displaced persons within Syria and to help them meet their basic needs and stabilize them where they are.
“Erroneous reporting suggesting otherwise is dangerous and distracts from our joint desire and objective to destroy Daesh and support those affected by its violence,” it added.
The U.S. administration promised Turkey it would inform all arms shipments to the SDF in a bid to ease concerns of its NATO ally, since Ankara views the main component of the group, the YPG, as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency on Aug. 1 reported that the U.S. had dispatched 100 new trucks consisting of military equipment to the YPG on July 30.
The trucks were reported to be in the northeastern city of Hasaka, before heading to the northern parts of Raqqa.
The dispatched trucks were reported to have entered the region under YPG control though the Iraqi border. The vehicles were reportedly carrying heavy weapons, cranes, Hummer trucks and jeeps, according to Anadolu Agency.
With the last aid provided by the U.S., the number of trucks that reached the YPG reportedly amounted to 909. In June, a total of 120 trucks and up to 689 more trucks were sent to the organization until July 27, the agency said.
According to a budget report received by the Anadolu Agency at the start of June from the Pentagon, the U.S. military was providing weapons to various armed groups in Syria, including the YPG. This aid reportedly includes a total of 12,000 Kalashnikovs, 6,000 machine guns, 3,500 heavy machine guns, 3,000 U.S. made RPG-7s and 1,000 U.S.-made AT-4 or Russian-made SPG-9 anti-tank munitions to be given to the armed groups.
U.S. President Donald Trump had authorized the arming of the YPG in Syria against ISIL earlier in May, causing ire in Ankara.
The Turkish government considers the YPG an extension of the PKK and has long pressed Washington to stop its support for the group, as it says the arms provided to the group are handed over to the PKK.