Since President Donald Trump took office, the U.S. has boosted its support for Syrian Kurdish allies against the Islamic State. The U.S.-led coalition is supplying armored vehicles for the first time to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF.)
“Previously we didn’t get support in this form, we would get light weapons and ammunition,” said SDF spokesman, Talal Silo to Reuters. “There are signs of full support from the new American leadership – more than before – for our forces.”
The SDF is aggressively waging a campaign to capture the IS’ operations in Raqqa. A Kurdish military source told Reuters that they are now aiming to block off all the remaining roads to the city, especially the route to Deir al-Zor province, which is another IS base.
“The coming phase of the campaign aims to isolate Raqqa completely,” said the Kurdish military source to Reuters. “Accomplishing this requires reaching the Raqqa-Deir al-Zor road. It will be difficult because Raqqa is not a place Daesh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State) will easily give up.”
The SDF forces are inching closer to Raqqa and have advanced within a half a mile from the Euphrates Dam which is occupied by the Islamic State and is just west of Raqqa.
“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reports on the war, said the SDF’s progress near the dam had come to a halt due to IS resistance,” writes Reuters. “Islamic State has been fighting hard in recent weeks to try to capture the last remaining pockets of Syrian government-held territory in Deir al-Zor city, prompting Russia to dispatch long-range bombers to repel its assault.”
The recent armored vehicle delivery might not help the SDF forces defeat IS for once and for all, but it’s a step in the right direction. It shows that Trump is making fighting IS a priority, like he has promised repeatedly in the past.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed the delivery and said the vehicles had been supplied specifically to the Syrian Arab Coalition, a part of the SDF.
He also said that there hasn’t been a change in policy and that armored vehicles were sent to help the coalition defend itself as they approached Raqqa from the explosive devices used by the Islamic State.
“The Department of Defense only provides training and materiel support to the Syrian Arab Coalition,” said Major Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway in a statement.
But as the support to combat IS increases, so does the tension between the U.S. and its NATO ally Turkey. The Kurdish YPG militia is seen as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK,) which has been a thorn in Turkey’s side for years.
Trump pledged at his inaugural address to “eradicate” “radical Islamic terrorism” from the U.S. and the world.
“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth,” said Trump.
One of his first steps, besides sending more weaponry to Syrian allies, was signing an executive order on Saturday to get a more aggressive plan against terrorism in the works.
“Islamic State is being fought in Syria by three sets of enemies: the Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria, the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian-backed militia allies in central and eastern Syria, and the Turkish army and its Syrian rebel allies in a strip of land near the border,” writes Reuters.
The U.S. isn’t exactly best buddies with these groups either, but this could be the start of improved relations, especially with Russia.
Editor’s note: The U.S. has no optimum solution for Syria, no reason for us to be there in the first place, except that Obama wanted to antagonize Russia. With a bit of coordination with the Russians, the violence should being to diminish immediately.