U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson Colonel Rob Manning said on Monday that the Pentagon is assessing American support for the Syrian Democratic Forces to make sure it is consistent with previous agreements.
“We have been clear with Turkey that weapons provided to the Syrian Democratic Forces, which include Kurdish elements of the SDF, would be limited, mission specific and provided incrementally to achieve our objectives, and those objectives are targeting ISIS,” Manning told reporters.
“We are taking a look at the things that need to happen to make sure that we are providing support consistent with those previous agreements,” he added.
Turkish media reported on November 24 that President Donald J. Trump told his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a phone call that Washington would halt weapons deliveries to the predominantly Kurdish YPG which fights under the SDF umbrella.
Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurgency mainly in Turkey’s majority-Kurdish southwest. The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, among others, but the YPG is not so designated by the U.S. or E.U.
The White House readout of the same call did not mention the SDF or YPG by name, but did say that Trump spoke about “pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria.”
White House readout of Trump's call w/ Erdogan. NOTE: "pending adjustments" to military aid for US allies in Syria. Turkish FM said today Trump promised to stop arming the YPG. pic.twitter.com/PQmdu03aqg
— Andrew deGrandpre (@adegrandpre) November 24, 2017
Manning said Washington is reviewing “pending adjustments” to the military support provided to its Kurdish partners. He noted, however, that the Pentagon is “always assessing” needs.
“We remain very clear that we are going to continue to target ISIS, and remain committed to protecting our NATO ally Turkey, including support to counter threats from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party,” the spokesperson added. “We are always taking a look and assessing how we can do that better. That is something we do continuously.”
Wherever possible, U.S. advisors would monitor the use of the weapons and supplies provided to the SDF to ensure they are used only against ISIS, Manning noted.
“It is our intent to regain large vehicles and heavy or crew-served weapons once specific threats have been defeated,” he said.