US-equipped YPG now hesitant to attack ISIS capital Raqqa

YUNUS PAKSOY @yunuspaksoy
Published 23.10.2015 00:00

Having acquired around 50 tons of ammunition from the United States as part of a plan to launch an attack on Raqqa, the ISIS capital, it is now unclear if the PKK's Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party's (PYD) armed People's Protection Unit (YPG) will participate.

A Pentagon official reportedly said Wednesday that the U.S. at this moment is unsure whether Kurdish fighters will join the operation on Raqqa. "As far as pressure on Raqqa, you know, this is why our partnership with Syrian Arabs is so vital, because Syrian Arabs really have the ability to pressure Raqqa heavily. Whether or not Kurdish fighters are willing to move that far south, frankly, is an unknown at this point," Colonel Steve Warren said.According to reports published in early October, the Pentagon had planned to arm 20,000 YPG fighters to help in the fight against ISIS in Raqqa. Even though the Pentagon repeatedly dismissed claims that it did not airdrop ammunition directly to the YPG, but to Arab groups on the ground, PYD Co-Chair Salih Muslim along with locals in the region contradicted the Pentagon's statement.

The U.S. recently announced the end of the train-and-equip program, acknowledging its failure. The program had a budget of around $500 million and sparked heavy criticism in the Senate. Mocked and embarrassed by the failure, the U.S. has sought other ways to arm fighters to defeat ISIS since then.

While the U.S. arms the YPG, the YPG seems to have a different agenda rather than defeating ISIS, according to some. Claimed to be planning to seize cantons in northern Syria, the YPG's hesitant approach might pose trouble for the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, Ankara voiced its concern regarding the YPG receiving dozens of tons of arms from the U.S. since it might pose a threat to Turkey's national security if arms are transferred to the PKK.

Early in October when asked whether Turkey should conduct military operations against the PYD and YPG, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, said Turkey would not hesitate to strike at any group that poses a threat to national security. Reportedly, Davutoğlu's concerns are based on intelligence reports that suggest arms delivered to the YPG ended up in PKK hideouts in Northern Iraq.

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