The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leading the campaign against the Islamic State stronghold Raqqa has received US armoured vehicles for the first time, SDF spokesman Talal Silo said Tuesday.
“American armoured vehicles have arrived for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for the first time. This happened after the new US administration came to power,” Silo told AFP.
Whilst 200 vehicles were transferred to the SDF in the first phase, more vehicles are expected to be sent to the group in the following days.
The spokesman added that the SDF was promised extra support in joint meetings carried out with representatives of the Trump administration, “particularly in the fight for Raqqa”.
Speaking to Sputnik, the spokeswoman for the Raqqa campaign, Jihan Sheikh Ahmad, commented on the US support for the SDF forces. “The coalition provides us with great assistance as part of the Wrath of Euphrates campaign. The assistance of the coalition powers in the second phase of the Raqqa campaign was even greater. Their assistance has been versatile. They provide us with weapons and their own fighters stand by our fighters, fighting against ISIS,” Ahmad said.
Major Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway said in a statement that the department of defence only provides training and material support to the Syrian Arab Coalition, an Arab component of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
On Tuesday the US military spokesman Colonel John Dorrian confirmed to AFP that the US had “provided armoured Sport Utility Vehicles to the Syrian Arab Coalition using existing authorities, in the interesting of helping protect our partnered forces from the (IS) improvised-explosive device threat,”.
The U.S. strategy towards arming SDF forces in the fight against IS has mounted tension with ally Turkey, which views the YPG, a dominating component of the SDF, as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Wednesday denied media reports that the US-led coalition had supplied them with weapons to help in the campaign, the group’s spokesman, Redur Khalil, said in a statement published by the YPG.
(Reporting and writing by Aylina Kilic/Kom News)