President Donald Trump has approved a plan that will arm the Syrian Kurdish militia as part of the United States’ plan to capture Raqqa, the Syrian city that is home base to ISIS, according to reports.
According to NBC News, the order is signed, and it “allows the process to begin to function,” which means the U.S. can begin to supply the Syrian Kurds with arms and equipment “fairly quickly” once the order reaches the Pentagon.
The Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) is thought to be the force that can eventually take back Raqqa, which has been under ISIS control since 2014, according to NBC News.
The approved plan also “reinforces the idea that the entire Syrian Democratic Force, Syrian Kurds (YPG) and the Syrian Arab Coalition has the backing of the U.S.,” according to NBC News.
However, this move is likely to upset relationships between the U.S. and Turkey, which “views the YPG as a threat and has rebuked the United States for partnering with the group in its fight against extremists in Syria,” according to The Washington Post.
President Trump is expected to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan next week, according to reports. Erdogan views the YPG as “terrorists,” according to NBC News.
“Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said the President made the decision [to arm Syrian Kurds] on Monday and described the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, as ‘the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future,'” the Washington Post reported.
“We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey,” White said in a statement on Tuesday, according to NBC News. “We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the U.S. is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally.”
While officials could not say exactly what equipment would be provided first, and where, it could be expected to see rifles, ammunition, armor, communications gear such as radios, bulldozers and engineering equipment to be delivered to the Kurds, according to NBC News.