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Trump Approves Continued Armament of Kurdish Units

Trump Approves Continued Armament of Kurdish Units

Sunday, 24 December, 2017 - 08:15
US President Donald Trump. (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump approved providing weapons worth $393 million to its partners in Syria despite Ankara’s concerns and objections over the continued delivery of heavy weapons and armored vehicles to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), according to Turkish media reports.

Hurriyet Daily News newspaper reported that on December 12, Trump signed the Pentagon's list prepared in May, 18 days after his phone conversation with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after which Ankara announced Trump's vow to end YPG's armament.

Trump was quoted as “openly instructing his generals to no longer give weapons to the YPG.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu declared after the phone call that Trump openly said that the "generosity should have ended much earlier.” However, the White House announced later that Trump informed Erdogan of the new alterations about providing weapons to US' partners in Syria as part of the war on ISIS.

The list included a total of 12,000 Kalashnikov rifles worth $6.3 million, 60,000 Kalashnikov clips worth $420,000 and 6,000 machine guns worth $20.3 million, according to the newspaper.

In addition, the list did not give any direct reference to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or the YPG, but rather mentioned Vetted Syrian Opposition (VSO).

Following Trump's approval of this list, the Pentagon will continue to send weapons to Syria in 2018, including thousands of anti-tank arms, heat seeking missiles and rocket launchers.

According to the list, a $1.2 billion budget was reserved for Iraq and $500 million was reserved for Syria as a part of the fund for training equipment.

The Pentagon’s Syria strategy for 2018 also included an increase in the number of Arab elements within the SDF.

The Pentagon also indicated that there are about 25,000 opposition forces supported as a part of the training program in Syria, knowing that this number is planned to be increased to 30,000 in 2018.

US support to the YPG creates tension in the relations between the two countries of the NATO given that Ankara considers the YPG a terror organization because of its links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Pentagon recently announced that it would withdraw weapons that pose a threat to Turkey's security from the Kurdish "units". However, Ankara demanded the withdrawal of all weapons, stressing that it was concerned with identifying what constituted a threat to its security.

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