Ilhan Tanir
Jan 16 2018

U.S. Military will train, equip and support SDF forces

Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the U.S. military operation against the militant jihadist group the Islamic State (ISIS), is “resolved to train, equip and support SDF partners to attain the lasting defeat of ISIS”, a representative told Ahval.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are a predominantly Kurdish alliance of militias partnered with the coalition forces against ISIS since mid-2014, when jihadist forces besieged the Kurdish town of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border. Turkey does not recognise the SDF as a separate entity, defining the group as a cover for Syrian Kurdish forces that the Turkish administration designates as terrorists.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened the United States on Monday, saying Turkey could not be held responsible for the consequences if the United States went ahead with its plans to establish a 30,000-strong border force together with the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), another armed group of Syrian Kurds on Turkey’s list of terrorist groups.

Responding to Erdogan's recent and vocal condemnations of the US policy in Syria, the Public Affairs Office of the Combined Joint Task Force’s Operation Inherent Resolve stated that "It would be inappropriate to remark on Mr. Erdogan's comments."


On Tuesday, Erdogan said “Neither apparent allies trying to stab us in the back will prevent us from undertaking the Afrin operation, nor will apparent politicians who were actually marginal supporters of terrorism,” again implying that the US is betraying its Turkish allies by supporting Syrian Kurdish forces.

Repeated questions to the Pentagon, OIR and United States Marine Corps about the 30 thousand strong border force went unanswered. 

The OIR's Press Desk also "urge[d] all parties to avoid further escalation and to retain focus on defeating ISIS, our common threat. Operations to defeat the last vestiges of ISIS continue in the Middle Euphrates River Valley.

"At this point in the operation, we are focused on dismantling their network, degrading their capabilities and exposing their extremist ideology for the senseless violence and nihilism that it represents." the official told Ahval in an email.

"We would like to add that Turkey is a valued member of the Coalition and a NATO partner, sharing our mission to ensure the lasting defeat of Daesh in Iraq and Syria."

Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway from the United States Marine Corps also avoided commenting directly on the YPG border troops, but said "the Coalition does not have operations ongoing in Afrin because it is focused on military operations against ISIS," when asked about potential invasion or incursion by the Turkish forces into the city.

“We recognise Turkey’s security concerns about the PKK, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. The US does not provide any support to the PKK,” said Rankine-Galloway.

The SDF, however, was an “indispensable partner in operations to combat ISIS”, said the Major.

The USA’s policy is to “coordinate closely with our Turkish NATO allies” regarding U.S. support for the SDF, on levels ranging from senior government officials to “operational commanders on the ground in Syria”, according to Rankine-Galloway.