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    US Commanders Recommend Letting Kurdish Fighters Keep Weapons – Reports

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    US Commanders planning the pullout of the US troops from Syria are recommending that Kurdish fighters battling Daesh forces be allowed to keep US-supplied weapons, four officials said on condition of anonymity.

    The recommendations were part of discussions inside the Pentagon, but it is still unclear whether they will be applied by the White House, the officials told Reuters.

    Discussions are still at an early stage inside the Pentagon and no decision has yet been made, the officials said. The plan will be presented to the White House in the coming days.

    The Pentagon declined to comment on what will happen with the weapons, saying it would be “inappropriate” at this time. The White House also declined to comment.

    “It would be inappropriate to discuss the disposition of weapons at this time. Planning is ongoing, and focused on executing a deliberate and controlled withdrawal of forces while taking all measures possible to ensure our troops’ safety", said Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman.

    The US officials said Trump’s announcement to pull the US troops out of Syria has upset US commanders, who view his decision as a betrayal of the Kurdish YPG militia, which has led the fight to eradicate Daesh* forces in northeastern Syria. One of the officials told Reuters that the YPG was given assurances that they would be armed by Washington until the fight against Daesh was completed.

    READ MORE: Kurdish YPG Prepares to Focus on Anti-Daesh Fight East of Euphrates

    “The fight isn’t over. We can’t simply start asking for the weapons back", the official said.

    According to the officials, the arms could include anti-tank missiles, armoured vehicles and mortars. The Pentagon keeps records of the weapons it has supplied to the YPG and their chain of custody. But, the US officials said, it would be nearly impossible to locate all of the equipment.

    The debate over leaving the weapons will continue with Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton’s visit to Turkey and Israel next week for talks on Syria, as the US had reportedly told Turkey that it would take back the weapons after the defeat of Daesh forces, which has lost almost all of its of territory in northeastern Syria.

    “The idea that we’d be able to recover them is asinine. So we leave them where they are", said a US official.

    A person familiar with the discussions said that the White House and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan would oppose the proposal to allow the YPG to keep its US-supplied weapons, as it would be considered “a rejection of Trump’s policy to withdraw from Syria”. Turkey views the YPG as an extension of outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party that has long soured bilateral relations with Ankara.

    Trump and Erdogan last spoke two weeks ago, discussing the US president ’s decision to withdraw all US forces from Syria, reshaping Middle East policies and letting Turkish forces finish the fight against terrorists in Syria.

    *Daesh (aka Islamic state, ISIL, IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries

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    Tags:
    troops withdrawal, Weapons, militia, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Syria, United States
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