US starts providing weapons to YPG in Syria's Raqqa


The United States has started distributing arms to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is predominantly led by the PKK terror organization's Syria offshoot, the People's Protection Units (YPG), in Raqqa, a U.S. official told Reuters on Tuesday, as the country moved ahead with its plan despite Turkey's concerns.

The official said the distribution of the arms had started in the past 24 hours, based on authority given by President Donald Trump earlier this month.

Trump authorized the Defense Department to equip "Kurdish elements" of the U.S.-backed SDF on Monday "to ensure a clear victory" over Daesh in Raqqa, Syria.

U.S. support for the SDF has been a major strain on relations between Washington and Ankara as the YPG forms the backbone of SDF forces. The U.S. says supporting the SDF is the only alternative for defeating the Daesh terrorist group, whereas Turkey says an alternative should be formed through local Arab tribes backed by countries in the region instead of supporting a terrorist group.

Turkey considers the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the YPG to be the Syrian affiliates of the PKK, a proscribed terrorist organization in the U.S., Turkey and the EU.

The PYD has come under the spotlight for its crimes against Arab and Turkmen locals in northern Syria, as part of its attempt to conduct demographic changes. The PYD's forced migration of Arabs and Turkmens, as well as arbitrary arrests of critical voices and recruitment of child soldiers, have also been covered by international human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and KurdsWatch.

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