WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Al-Masdar News on Monday reported that the United States had provided MANPADS to Kurdish forces near the northwestern Syrian town of Afrin earlier this month under an agreement between Washington and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a mostly Kurdish militia that makes up the bulk of SDF forces.
Meanwhile, the US-led coalition fighting the Daesh terror group refuses to say whether it gave portable anti-aircraft missiles (MANPADS) to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria, the Public Affairs Office of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) told Sputnik.
“The international Coalition is resolved to train, equip and support our SDF partners to attain the lasting defeat of ISIS [Daesh]. Due to operational security concerns, we will not provide details of weaponry provided to specific units in specific locations,” the press office said when asked about reports that the US had provided man-portable air defense systems or MANPADS to Kurdish forces in Syria.
On Saturday, the Defense Post news website reported that the US-led coalition was training a 30,000-strong force on Syrian territory controlled by the SDF to maintain border security.
The new training program has drawn sharp criticism from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who warned that Ankara would strangle the SDF’s new “terror army” before it is even born.
Erdogan on Saturday also announced that Turkish troops would launch a military incursion into the northeastern Syrian cities of Manbij and Afrin if Kurdish militias do not withdraw within a week. However, the US-led coalition refused to comment on Erdogan’s remarks.
“Turkey is a valued member of the Coalition and a NATO partner, sharing our mission to ensure the lasting defeat of Daesh in Iraq and Syria,” the press office said. “It would be inappropriate to remark on Mr. Erdogan’s comments.”
Ankara has sharply criticized the United States for cooperating with Syrian Kurdish groups that it regards as allies of Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish forces have been battling a four-decade-long insurgency against the PKK. Turkey, the United States and European Union have listed the PKK as a terrorist group. However, the US-led coalition is supporting the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and YPG in the Syrian conflict.
The US-led coalition of more than 70 members is conducting military operations against the Daesh terror group in Syria that are not authorized by the government of President Bashar Assad or the United Nations Security Council.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States of plotting against territorial integrity and security of the Syrian state, as well as of the whole region.
On Tuesday, Rouhani held a meeting with the Speaker of the People’s Council of Syria, Hammouda Youssef Sabbagh, on the sidelines of the 13th Session of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states, hosted by Iran.
“The plot that the Americans recently have in mind for Syria is against international regulations and a conspiracy for territorial integrity and the security of Syria and the region,” Rouhani said during the Tuesday meeting as quoted by his press service, condemning US activities in Syria and its “plots for the country’s future.”
On Monday, Russia and Turkey, which are guarantor states of the Syrian ceasefire regime along with Iran, condemned the US moves. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that they did not contribute to the settlement of the Syrian conflict but caused concerns that the course for the division of Syria had been set.