Turkish Media: U.S. Sends 100 Trucks of Military Equipment to Syrian Kurds

The U.S. dispatched around new 100 trucks consisting of military equipment to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria on May 15 and May 20, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.

Multiple Turkish media outlets are reporting that the United States deployed a new convoy of about 100 trucks to Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State in Rojava, or Syrian Kurdistan, this week.

The U.S. government announced this month that it would be sending heavy weapons to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) to help them prepare to participate in the battle to liberate Raqqa, the “capital” of the Islamic State Caliphate. Raqqa remains the last city under Islamic State control in Syria, though ISIS terrorists have secured some towns and remote areas outside of Raqqa.

The new shipments, if confirmed, are sure to infuriate the government of Turkey, which considers the YPG a terrorist group working in tandem with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). While America has designated the PKK a terrorist group, it considers the YPG a close ally and the most effective militia on the ground fighting the Islamic State in the country. The YPG has no ties to Islamists and, though adhering to Marxist ideology, is largely pro-American. Americans have died fighting the Islamic State alongside the YPG.

The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on Tuesday, citing the state-run Anadolu Agency, that two separate American convoys totaling around 100 vehicles entered YPG territory on May 15 and May 20. The trucks appeared to arrive at a YPG-controlled area near Raqqa from eastern al-Hasakah province and “were indicated to have entered the region under YPG control though the Simelka-Peshkhabour border crossing between Syria and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).”

Hurriyet suggests the shipment included “fuel oil, military armored vehicles, heavy construction equipment and ammunition.”

Milliyet, a Turkish publication previously under Hurriyets parent group Dogan, which the company sold after Turkish government pressure, appears to confirm the Hurriyet/Anadolu report and provides a video of what it claims were the American trucks entering the region.

Milliyet claims Raqqa is currently “surrounded on three sides” in preparation for the final battle to free the region.

In early May, the Pentagon announced that it would increase its support to the YPG. “Yesterday, the president authorized the Department of Defense to equip Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces as necessary to ensure a clear victory over ISIS in Raqqa, Syria,” spokeswoman Dana White said on May 9. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) largely consists of the YPG, but also contain elements of anti-ISIS groups of other ethnicities. White referred to SDF as the “only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future” and emphasized that arming the YPG was necessary to ensure the success of the Raqqa mission.

The Pentagon vowed that the equipment would reach the intended recipients swiftly as the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State works to begin the operation to free Raqqa.

The Turkish government has adamantly opposed the move. Even before this announcement, Turkish forces attacked YPG positions near the Turkish/Syrian border, killing YPG fighters and raising international alarm that the forces fighting ISIS were turning on each other instead of the jihadist group.

American troops reportedly arrived in the area following that attack to prevent a larger incident. Turkish officials have demanded that American diplomats working in tandem with the YPG, particularly the U.S. envoy for the coalition against ISIS Brett McGurk, be fired for “definitely giving clear support to the PKK and YPG.”

The Trump administration began its term with a more favorable disposition towards the SDF than its predecessor, which appeared to favor the Arab Syrian rebels, many of whom had ties to jihadist groups. “Previously we didn’t get support in this form, we would get light weapons and ammunition,” SDF spokesman Talal Silo said in February. “There are signs of full support from the new American leadership – more than before – for our forces.”

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