US President Donald Trump has authorised the defence department to provide military hardware to Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces as part of efforts to defeat the Islamic State terror group, the Pentagon announced today. “Yesterday, the President authorised the Department of Defense to equip Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as necessary to ensure a clear victory over ISIS in Raqqa, Syria,” Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana W White said.
The SDF, with enabling support from the US and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future, she asserted. “We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey. We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the US is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally,” White said.
Noting that the US continues to prioritise its support for Arab elements of the SDF, White said Raqqa and all the liberated territory should return to the governance of local Syrian Arabs. “The fight for Raqqa will be long and difficult, but will ultimately be yet another defeat for ISIS, and another step toward eliminating the ISIS threat to peace and security in the region and the world,” she said.
Earlier, Trump extended the national emergency with respect to Syria and argued that the Syrian regime poses “extraordinary threat” to the US national security.
The brutal Syrian regime, he alleged, is supporting terrorism, maintaining its then-existing occupation of Lebanon, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programmes, and undermining the US and international efforts with respect to the stabilisation and reconstruction of Iraq. “The regime’s brutality and repression of the Syrian people, who have been calling for freedom and a representative government, not only endangers the Syrian people themselves, but also generates instability throughout the region,” he said.
The Syrian regime’s actions and policies, including with respect to chemical and biological weapons, supporting terrorist organisations, and obstructing the Lebanese government’s ability to function effectively, continue to foster the rise of extremism and sectarianism and pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, Trump said.
“The United States condemns the Assad regime’s use of brutal violence and human rights abuses and calls on the Assad regime to stop its violence against the Syrian people, uphold the Cessation of Hostilities, enable the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and allow a political transition in Syria that will forge a credible path to a future of greater freedom, democracy, opportunity, and justice,” said the US President.