UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The United States is continuing to send weapons and military vehicles to Kurdish fighters in Syria to continue fighting Islamic State, despite a safe zone in northern Syria bordering Turkey, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.
“We continue to provide weapons and vehicles specifically designed to meet the needs of the SDF, particularly the mission of eliminating the Islamic State,” said Chris Meyer, director of the Pentagon’s Working Group on Combating ISIS.
“We are very transparent about what these supplies are,” he told a news conference. “We report monthly to Turkey on what these weapons and vehicles are.”
The statement came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to launch an operation to “eliminate” the threat posed by the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Erdogan has repeatedly warned that his country intends to launch a military operation in Kurdish-controlled areas of northeastern Syria against the YPG, the backbone of the SDF, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization and an extension of the PKK, which has been leading an insurgency against it for decades.
Ankara is demanding that Washington stop supporting Kurdish fighters and fears that they will establish autonomy near their borders.
In an effort to allay Turkish fears, Washington proposed at the end of last year the creation of a “safe zone” with a depth of 30 kilometers along the border between the Syrian Kurds and Turkey, including the most prominent Kurdish cities. Ankara welcomed the proposal but insisted that it take over the administration of the area, which the Kurds absolutely reject.
Presenting progress between Washington and Ankara on the establishment of the safe area, Meyer, who preferred to talk about a “security mechanism,” said that so far the US and Turkish sides have conducted five joint helicopter flights over the area, and the first joint ground patrol took place on 8 September.
In addition, many Kurdish fortifications have been removed, and Kurdish fighters have been replaced by Arab ones, even “if there are still YPG members in the area.”
“The removal of the fortifications should not necessarily be seen as making the population of northeastern Syria less secure,” the US official stressed.
“We are fully convinced that while we are working with Turkey, the idea of a Turkish incursion into Syria has been greatly diminished.”
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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