Syrian Kurds Get 200+ Trucks’ Worth of US Arms Despite Turkish Concerns – Report
The arms injection follows reports that the US has been beefing up its presence in the northern Syrian town of Manbij following a formal withdrawal by the Syrian Democratic Forces last month.
A US convoy transporting weapons, ammunition and military equipment entered northern Syria at the Simalkah border checkpoint between Syria and Iraq, Al-Masdar News reported, citing Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) activists.
The SDF, which is a coalition of mostly Kurdish militias in northern Syria, controls much of eastern and northern Syria, including the northeastern Al-Hasakah governorate, the region to which the latest US supply convoy was directed. The supplies are expected to assist the SDF in its ongoing battle with the remnants of Daesh (ISIL/ISIS), which controls several pockets of sparsely-populated territory in eastern and southern Syria.
The SDF includes within it the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish militia force that Ankara classifies as a terrorist organization with ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is outlawed in Turkey. Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, western Syria, in January 2018, and agreed to a “roadmap” with the US in June on the SDF’s withdrawal from Manbij, a town about 100 km east of Afrin.
The Turkish media and Turkish politicians have since complained that the SDF withdrawal has not allowed Turkish forces to properly enter Manbij, with local Kurdish militia allied with the US vowing to resist if Turkish troops enter the town.
The US-led coalition is estimated to have 5,000 troops across some 20 bases throughout northern Syria. Damascus has condemned the activity of both the US coalition and Turkish forces in Syria, calling their presence a violation of Syria’s territorial integrity.
Presidents Putin and President Trump are expected to discuss Syria at their upcoming summit meeting in Helsinki next Monday. Earlier, US media reported that the Trump administration was looking to clinch a deal with Moscow that would allow US forces to withdraw from Syria.