03:05 GMT +324 July 2019
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    Free Syrian Army fighter takes cover during fighting with the Syrian Army in Azaz, Syria

    More Dollars Than Sense: US Hands Weapons to Favored Fighters in Syria

    © AP Photo / Virginie Nguyen Hoang, File
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    Hopeful to avoid repeating the mistake of seeing its weapons and vehicles used by militant jihadists, the United States has set about finding 'moderate rebels' in Syria that have the potential to reintroduce peace to the region; while it has found several allies, it has ignored other key groups, and stepped on the toes of its friends, the Turks.

    Despite the $500 million it has allocated towards vetting potential 'moderate opposition' fighters in Syria to fight ISIL, the US has so-far only managed to train an "awfully small" force of 100 men, according to US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Fortunately for the Obama Administration, America does have allies in in Syria. Kurdish YPG forces have been fighting Islamic militants since 2013, despite having recently been attacked by Turkey, which has been a NATO member since 1952. 

    The Arab al Sanadid militia, which support the Kurds and are part of the Syrian Arab Coalition, claim to be opposed to another American ally —Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, an Arab militia group, the Raqqa Revolutionaries' Brigade, is the only force to have prioritized liberating the strategic city of Raqqa from ISIL. However, McClatcyDC.com reports that they will not get any military supply in the nearest future, simply because they are out of the US spotlight. 

    America relies on and sends arms to the Kurds, whose military interests conflict with Turkey's. Ankara is ready to use force to stop them, according to a statement released by the country's President Recep Tayip Erdogan on Thursday.

    This might happen if Kurdish troops start an offensive against the Islamic State as planned — near the Turkish border, between Kurdish enclaves of Kobani and Afrin just north of Aleppo and in other places.

    "We in the YPG have a strategic goal, to link Afrin with Kobani," Polat Can, a senior YPG official was quoted as saying by McClatchy.

    "We will do everything we can to achieve it," he added, stressing that other areas, such as Raqqa, where ISIL is based, "are not so important." 

    Al Sanadid, a local Arab militia comprised of members of the Shammar tribe which counts the YPG among its allies, agrees with this strategic vision, McClatchy reports. The Kurds control vast areas in northern Syria, including land inhabited by the Shammar.

    The immediate goal of al Sanadid is to "to liberate al Hawl and Ash Shaddadi from ISIL," Bandar al Humaydi, the son of the head of the tribe, Sheikh Humaydi Daham al Hadi, told McClatchy. Both cities he mentioned are of local importance and are located in al Hasakah province, far from Raqqa.  

    Sheikh himself said to McClatchy, that his goal is to lead a Shammar tribal uprising against the Islamic State terrorists in Syria, Iraq and beyond, meaning the dissolution of Saudi Arabia, the historic adversary of his tribe, he detailed. Lands of the tribe are spread from northern Syria and Iraq to Saudi Arabia. 

    Al Sanadid belongs to a newly-formed Kurdish YPG-led military and political alliance, dubbed the Syrian Democratic Forces, which includes also the Kurdish Women's Protection Units (YPJ), Assyrian Christian units, Euphrates Volcano as well as fighters from several Arab factions. 

    Meanwhile, another force which joined the Syrian Democratic Forces, whose ultimate goal is to fight ISIL in Raqqa and liberate the city from jihadists, has repeatedly been refused any arms supplies. The Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa, or the Raqqa Revolutionaries' Brigade, is led by a Raqqa merchant, Abu Issa.

    "We are now preparing for the battle of Raqqa," Abu Issa told McClatchy in his first interview with a Western news outlet. "But we have very limited resources. We need to have the same equipment as our enemy," he said, referring to the tanks and military vehicles ISIL operates.

    Over a dozen of his Fighters were trained by the United States how to use anti-tank weapons, but haven't had the chance to use one on the battlefield dues to a lack of supplies.

    "We have been fighting ISIS for almost two years," he told McClatchy. "We were the first to fight them. The most important thing is we need weapons, to encourage people to come for training. If I had weapons, ammunition and support, I could gather 10,000 fighters."

    The commander said the US has never come into contact with him regarding weapons shipments.

    "We didn't get anything from the Americans. They don't even contact us," Abu Issa claimed. "We are waiting to be supported."

    A US military source told McClatchy anonymously, that the American aid is not intended for the Raqqa Revolutionaries.

    "He's making a lot of noise," the source reportedly said. "We're working through the Syrian Democratic Forces there."

    After this month's 50-ton US airdrop, there have been multiple reports of the Arab units inside the Syrian Democratic Forces not getting anything from the shipment, as the aid is being distributed by the Kurds.

    Nonetheless, on Thursday, the Raqqa Revolutionaries' Brigade announced it will stage a ground assault against the IS stronghold of Raqqa.

    "We will soon announce the zero hour for the beginning of the battle of liberation from oppression and persecution," Abu Issa said in a YouTube announcement. The video was posted by an activist group known as Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.

    ISIL has captured large areas in Syria and Iraq. Its advance is being countered by bombing campaigns by both a US-led coalition and by Russia following a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad on September 30. On the ground, the Syrian army loyal to Assad, opposition factions and the Kurds are also fighting Islamic State militants.

    Tags:
    tribe, Arabs, kurds, Kurds, anti-ISIL coalition, war, Syrian Democratic Forces, Syrian Arab Coalition, Al Sanadid militia, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Sheikh Humaydi Daham al Hadi, Syria, United States
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