National Security

Pentagon: Trump’s Military Aid To Kurds Will Be ‘Closely Monitored’


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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Military aid to Kurdish elements fighting the Islamic State will be “closely monitored” and won’t include anti-air weapons, according to the Pentagon Thursday.

President Donald Trump’s authorization will provide Syrian Kurdish elements within the Syrian Democratic Forces with weapons in order to retake Raqqa, the Syrian city that serves as ISIS’s de facto capital. The Kurdish elements will receive small arms, ammunition, heavy machine guns and weapons capable of taking out “heavily-armored vehicle-borne IEDs (improvised explosive devices),” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told The Daily Caller News Foundation, but will not be provided with anti-aircraft weaponry.

“The U.S. government is supplying the equipment necessary for the liberation of Raqqa in metered increments and tied to specific objectives,” Pahon told TheDCNF. “The equipment will be closely monitored to the maximum extent possible in this complicated, intense battlespace.”

“The Kurds are not receiving air-defense weapons,” he added.

Trump decided to arm the Syrian Kurds despite objections from NATO ally, Turkey. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, is one of the Kurdish elements that will be armed. The YPG is known to have connections to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a decades-old enemy of the Turkish government and a U.S. designated terrorist group.

Turkey is concerned the weapons provided by the U.S. could one day fall into the wrong hands.

Pahon noted that air defense weapons are not relevant in the fight to retake Raqqa. What little air power ISIS has is generally limited to off-the-shelf drones carrying small bombs.

Turkish air power may not have anything to fear from the U.S.-provided weapons, but the YPG’s strong presence along Turkey’s southern border is a cause for concern.

The Pentagon reassured Turkey and other skeptics that the weapons will be limited to anti-ISIS operations in Raqqa.

Pahon was not able to provide a specific timetable for when the weapons would be delivered, citing operational security reasons. The Pentagon also did not elaborate on how the weapons would be monitored.

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