WASHINGTON — Syrian Kurdish fighters are newly armed with sophisticated American combat equipment as they close in on the Islamic State’s stronghold in Raqqa, Military Times has learned, weaponry the Pentagon says it is barred from providing to those forces.
The gear includes U.S.-manufactured night-vision goggles, rifles and advanced optics among other items, the same as that used by American special operations forces and the foreign commando units they train. In northern Syria, where about 900 American advisers are supporting separate coalitions comprising thousands of Kurdish and Arab conscripts, it’s been fielded by the People’s Protection Unit. The militia, widely known as the YPG, has emerged as the U.S. military’s most trustworthy and capable proxy on the ground.
The development is likely to infuriate Turkey, which considers the YPG a terrorist group, and could prove problematic for President Donald Trump and his national security team. Like its predecessor, the Trump administration is struggling to balance a tenuous relationship with the assorted factions Washington has assembled in its complex effort to destroy ISIS, bring stability to the region and safeguard allies who will remain vulnerable when U.S. military forces eventually withdraw from the war-torn country.
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Photo courtesy of Syrian Democratic Forces, via AP