The office of the U.S. secretary of defense has announced that the President Donald Trump administration is planning to continue the operation on Syria's Daesh-held city of Raqqa with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is led by the PKK terror organization's Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG).
"At the end of the day, it is the White House that will make the decision. However, as of now, our cooperation is continuing with the SDF and our allies. There is no reason to change this cooperation. If the administration would like to take different steps or send troops there, that is an option, however, there is no strong reason to change the current plan," a Pentagon official, who preferred to remain anonymous, told the Anadolu Agency (AA) amid recent reports on media that the U.S. administration should be sending more support to the SDF for the Raqqa offensive.
The former Barack Obama administration's strong backing of the YPG greatly soured Turkish-U.S. relations and the U.S. is still expressing support for the terrorist group. The U.S. considers the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG, an effective force in the fight against Daesh in Syria while Turkey, a NATO ally, argues that Washington has joined forces with a terrorist group. Ankara argues that the arms support to the SDF/PYD ultimately benefits the PKK terror group, which has been in conflict with Turkey for more than three decades and has caused the loss of more than 40,000 people's lives.
The YPG, which is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK terrorist group, has also taken a hostile approach towards Turkey since the beginning. The terrorist group has attacked Turkish troops in Syria and militants trained by the YPG have carried out attacks in Turkey in the past.
The official added that the U.S. policy to provide arms support has not changed, and that it will continue to support the groups as it is needed by the Pentagon. He added that the Pentagon does not want to impose any plans or options on the White House, however continuing with the SDF for Raqqa seems to be the best option on the table.Against the Pentagon's Raqqa plan, Ankara has claimed that several thousand Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters were ready to engage Daesh to liberate Raqqa. The FSA has been effective in Operation Euphrates Shield, which began in late last August to improve security, support coalition forces and eliminate the terror threat along Turkey's southern borders.
If Washington decides to go with Ankara's plan to liberate Raqqa, it will need to convince the YPG to let FSA troops, in cooperation with the Turkish military, pass through Tal Abyad to Raqqa. The U.S. may have to cut off its ammunition and weapons supply to the terrorist group.
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