Syrian Kurds say US weapons deliveries to ‘adjust’ but continue

QAMISHLI, Syria — Washington will “adjust” its delivery of weapons to an anti-jihadist alliance in Syria dominated by Kurdish fighters, Kurdish officials said Monday, insisting that collaboration with the United States will “continue.”

The comments come after Turkey said it had received assurances from the White House that it would halt supplies of weapons to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the main Kurdish militia in Syria.

The US began supplying weapons directly to the YPG earlier this year, as part of its support for the anti-jihadist Syrian Democratic Forces alliance, which is dominated by the Kurdish militia.

The decision deeply angered Ankara, which considers the YPG a terrorist group.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that US President Donald Trump had told Turkey the weapons deliveries would end.

“Mr. Trump said he gave a clear order and that, after this, weapons would not be supplied to the YPG, essentially he said this nonsense should have been ended earlier,” Cavusoglu said at a press conference in Ankara.

Washington was less explicit, however, describing only “pending adjustments” to its support for the YPG, which forms the backbone of the SDF that ousted the Islamic State group from Raqqa last month.

Kurdish officials told AFP Monday that any changes to weapons deliveries were the natural consequence of their successes against IS, and not a reflection of any change in their ties with Washington.

“There are no changes to the relations between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the US administration,” said Abdel Karim Amr, an official with the Kurdish semi-autonomous administration in northern Syria.

“Obviously, there will be an adjustment in the delivery of arms to the SDF after the elimination of IS, but there is no change in US policy regarding coordination” with the alliance, he added.

“The support will continue until we eliminate all that remains of IS’s presence in the entire region where there is coordination between the US administration and the SDF,” said Amr, who is charged with external relations for the Kurdish administration.

He described Turkey’s statements on the issue as “incorrect” and “imprecise.”

“We are the partners of the international coalition that is fighting terrorism, and that partnership will continue,” added Mustefa Bali of the SDF’s press office.

“We still have much to do with our partners in the coalition,” he added.

The SDF has been a key partner of the US-led coalition against IS, and together they have driven the jihadists from strongholds, including their one-time de facto Syrian capital Raqqa.

But the relationship has caused tensions between Washington and Ankara, which launched its own military intervention in Syria last year, targeting both IS and the YPG.

More than 340,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

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