Top U.S. leaders have developed a plan to help U.S. troops defeat ISIS in Syria. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump approved a plan to arm the Syrian Kurdish militia, an important U.S. ally in Syria in the fight against ISIS.
The Pentagon released a statement saying the move to arm the Syrian Kurdish militia was significant because it supports the notion that the Syrian Democratic Force is the fighting force that will eventually go in to Raqqa, a city in Syria’s center which has been under ISIS control since 2014. The move also reinforces the idea that the entire Syrian Democratic Force, Syrian Kurds (YPG) and the Syrian Arab Coalition, has the backing of the U.S.
Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said in a statement on Tuesday that the Syrian Democratic Force is the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future”. The Syrian Democratic Forces are being supported by U.S. and coalition forces.
One U.S. official told NBC News that the order has been signed and that this will allow the process to begin. The Official further stated that once the Pentagon receives the order, the U.S. can begin providing the Syrian Kurds with arms and equipment fairly quickly since some equipment is pre-positioned.
The officials could not say what equipment is pre-positioned or what will be distributed first. But it is believed that some of the equipment that could be supplied to the Syrian Democratic Force are:
Breaching equipment — bulldozers, engineering equipment
More effective infantry equipment: rifles, ammunition, armor and communication gear (radios)
The officials did not say how the equipment is going to be delivered, but there are several different methods that could be used. For example: Ground convoys, C-130s, and air drops are all possible, the method used to deliver the equipment depends on what kind of equipment it is and the area it is going too.
It is unclear whether the U.S. may provide bigger equipment.
The news about the U.S. plan to arm Syrian Kurds comes as the Trump administration mulls sending as many as 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan, a military official told NBC News, and as the White House makes moves it believe will help American forces “start winning” again in the region.
The Turks will be notified about the decision on arming Syrian Kurdish forces soon, and the Pentagon expects a strong reaction. In March, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Turkey to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who sees the YPG as terrorists.
Erdogan is expected to travel to Washington D.C. to meet with the president next week — their first face-to-face meeting since Trump took office — and one in which divisions over U.S. support of the Syrian Kurdish militia are likely to be a point of contention.
In the Syrian conflict, Turkey supports the opposition. However, Turkish forces aren’t focused on troops backed by Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad — whose leadership is supported by Russia.
Instead, Turkish troops and some Syrian factions have trained their efforts on Syrian Kurds in the country’s north as well as ISIS militants.
” We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey,” White said in a statement on Tuesday. “We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the U.S. is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally.”
Last week, the White House said Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed by phone ways to resolve the Syria crisis — a six year old civil war which has left more than 500,000 civilians dead, displaced millions and drawn international outrage. That conversation included a “discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons.”