Ankara – In reaction to Pentagon’s announcement on Tuesday that it has provided the Syrian Arab Coalition with armored vehicles, Turkish diplomatic sources expressed Ankara’s reservations on the matter, noting that the Turkish authorities had previously informed the former U.S. administration about its objection to such armament operations.
The Syrian Arab Coalition is a component of the broader Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the bulk of whose fighters is Kurdish.
While Turkey did not issue any official reaction following Pentagon’s announcement, well-informed Turkish sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Turkey’s stance on the armament of Kurdish militias did not change.
The sources added that contacts were made between Ankara and Washington to find out about the party that has received the military equipment.
A U.S. defense official confirmed Tuesday that the United States officially announced providing the SDF, which is fighting terror group ISIS in Syria, with armored vehicles.
“It was a ground-level tactical decision, it’s not a policy-type decision, it’s a tactical decision based on the threats the SDF might be facing,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said.
“We are providing them with the tools to face whatever the current threat is.”
The Pentagon has previously supplied the Arab component with light weaponry and ammunition, and has sent U.S. and other Western special forces as “advisers” to help the SDF as a whole.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday that the Pentagon has confirmed that it would deliver armored vehicles to a contingent of the U.S.-backed SDF
The agency quoted Pentagon Spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway as saying that armored vehicles “will help them contend with ISIS’ IED threat as they move toward Raqqa.”
The agency added that U.S. support for the SDF “remains a source of contention between Washington and Ankara.”
“There has been no change to current policy. The Department of Defense only provides training and material support to the Syrian Arab Coalition,” Galloway was quoted as saying, referring to the Arab component of the SDF.