WASHINGTON, May 9, 2017 – President Donald Trump has authorized a plan to arm the Syrian Kurdish forces in their fight against ISIS. This plan demonstrates that the U.S. is fully supporting the Syrian Democratic Force, Syrian Kurds and the Syrian Arab Coalition and puts the U.S. at odds with Turkey’s foreign policy regarding the Kurds.
The Trump administration discussed the move during a meeting with Secretary of Defense James Mattis via video teleconference. Under the agreement, the U.S. will begin to arm the Kurds with weapons and equipment. The Military Times reports that recent photos have shown Kurdish fighters already using advanced U.S.-made military equipment.
For its part, the Department of Defense (DoD) has not said how the equipment would be delivered, but it could via ground convoys and air drops.
The Kurds will receive breaching and infantry equipment including bulldozers, rifles, ammunition, armor and communications gear. Turkey is expected to respond rather harshly to the move, as they have long viewed Kurdish armed forces as terrorists.
Trump has been in contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin discussing ways to put an end to the Syria civil war, which has now lasted for six years leaving more than 500,000 civilians dead and stirring up international outrage.
President Trump is scheduled to meet with Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan next week. Trump is expected to discuss the situation in the Middle East and the ongoing campaign to defeat ISIS as well as Washington’s support for the Kurdish fighters.
Trump’s meeting with Erdogan comes as the White House attempts to warm up to the country after facing tense relations stemming from the failed military coup that aimed to topple the Turkish strongman. The U.S. has wanted Turkey to play a larger role in the fight against ISIS.