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US Embassy says reports on Washington sending tanks, ammunition to Syria erroneous

The US Embassy in Ankara. AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

The US Embassy in Ankara said on Thursday that reports in the Turkish media claiming Washington has sent tanks and hundreds of truckloads of weapons to Kurdish militia in Syria are erroneous.

In a statement posted on the embassy website on Thursday, the US Embassy said reports in the Turkish media ignore basic facts about the current situation in Syria.

The majority of U.S. military assistance, which consists primarily of light weapons and ammunition, has supported Syrian Arab Coalition [SAC] elements of the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces]. The Syrian Arabs who comprise the SAC are fighting to expel Daesh [ISIL] and regain control of their homes.”

Underlining that Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia was given a small percentage of weapons, the US Embassy said weapons given to the YPG are specific to task and are only provided due to their importance to the capture of Raqqa and the destruction of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

We continue to provide full transparency to the government of Turkey as to what weapons are being delivered to the YPG,” it said.

According to the statement, the vast majority of trucks crossing the Iraqi/Syrian border do not contain military equipment or supplies. They contain foodstuffs, medicine, and other essential supplies needed to ensure the health and safety of internally displaced persons within Syria and to help them meet their basic needs and stabilize them where they are.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday that the US has sent 100 more truckloads of weapons to the Syrian Kurdish YPG, which Turkey claims is affiliated with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Anadolu said 100 trucks carrying hummers, jeeps and lifting cranes entered the Kurdish-controlled Haseke region from the Iraqi border.

The US has sent a total of 809 trucks of military supplies to the YPG/PKK in the region since June 5. US aid to the SDF contains 12,000 AK47s, 6,000 machine guns, 3,500 heavy machine guns, 3,000 RPGs, 1,000 antitank missiles, 235 mortars and 100 sniper rifles, Anadolu claimed, based on US sources.

Despite the fact that the US aid was announced to be for the purpose of operations against ISIL in Raqqa, the pro-government media on Tuesday claimed that the supplies are part of preparations for an operation against areas in Syria that were taken under control by the Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters during Operation Euphrates Shield between August 2016 and March 2017.

Target of US is Euphrates Shield” wrote the pro-government Star daily on its front page on Tuesday, recalling a recent statement by Brett McGurk, the US special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition against ISIL, who claimed there was a link between Turkey and the presence of al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria’s Idlib province.

The pro-government daily in a front-page story said Turkey blamed the US, claiming that Washington has started the state-building process for the YPG/PKK in northern Syria with its military aid.

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