Weapons given to the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliate by the United States, some of the military support given to fight against Daesh, are being sold by the People's Protection Units (YPG) to keep the arms on the field and make money.
A U.S. official had told Turkey that the YPG would return the weapons to the U.S. as they withdraw from Manbij in northern Syria, as part of the deal recently reached with Ankara. According to the deal, the YPG would withdraw from the province, which has been held by the YPG since 2016. There is no concrete information as to how many weapons given to the YPG have been retrieved so far.
Local sources have said that the YPG has begun selling the weapons, as the withdrawal from the region continues, as a source of financial income and to keep the weapons at hand in the region in case they are needed against Turkish forces in the future.
The U.S. had given truckloads of military support to the YPG, which functions under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), despite Ankara's warnings that the group is organically linked to the PKK, a group listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S., Turkey and the European Union.
Previously, Washington said that the weapons given to the YPG in Syria would be retrieved once the fight against Daesh is over. Yet, despite the weakening of Daesh in Syria, there have been no moves that suggest retrieval of the weapons from the YPG, a matter of concern for Turkey, which says the weapons are ultimately transferred to the PKK and used against Turkey.
The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of the YPG terrorist organization from the northern Syrian city to stabilize the region.
Previously, U.S. military support for the YPG terrorist group in Manbij strained ties between Ankara and Washington and led to fears of military clashes between the two NATO allies since there were roughly 2,000 U.S. troops deployed in the city.
However, a Manbij road map was announced after a meeting in Washington between Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in early June.
Should the Manbij model prove to be a success, Turkey will push for a similar arrangement in eastern Syria to remove terrorist elements that have major affiliations with the PKK.
The YPG's ultimate aim is to establish an autonomous region in northern Syria by connecting the northwestern Afrin canton to the Kobani and Jazeera regions in the northeast. Thus, Turkey said that the presence of terror forces near its border constitutes a threat and launched military operations and other efforts to rid the region of terrorists.
On Jan. 20 Turkey launched another operation, Operation Olive Branch, to remove YPG terrorists from the northern Syrian province of Afrin. On March 18, the 58th day of the operation, Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army (FSA) members liberated the town of Afrin.