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25 May, 2017 00:28

‘Truckloads’ of US arms and ammo reach Kurdish militia in Syria – reports

‘Truckloads’ of US arms and ammo reach Kurdish militia in Syria – reports

Over 100 trucks loaded with US armaments and ammunition, including heavy mortars and anti-tank missiles, have reached the Kurdish controlled northern Syrian city of Hasakah over the past weeks, Turkish and Kurdish media report.

The US arms shipment was reserved for the multi-ethnic Syrian militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) dominated by Kurdish YPG units, according to the media reports.

The SDF is fighting Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) and is preparing to launch an offensive on the city of Raqqa, considered to be the self-proclaimed capital of IS in Syria.

The trucks carrying the arsenal crossed into Syria from northern Iraq through the Simelka border crossing on two separate occasions on May 15 and May 20, Turkey's Daily Sabah reports.

The convoys reportedly moved to Hasakah and later headed to the Raqqa region where the SDF are currently battling Islamic State militants.

The consignment included US-made multiple rocket launchers, 80mm and 120mm heavy mortars as well as MK19 grenade launchers, M4 carbines and M16 infantry rifles alongside with FGM-148 anti-tank missiles, Turkish media report.

The convoys also consisted of fuel tankers, Humvee armored vehicles, Cougar armored personnel carriers that were reportedly also handed over to Kurdish forces.

However, neither the US-led coalition nor the SDF has confirmed the delivery so far, the Kurdish Rudaw news agency reports.

On May 9, the US Department of Defense confirmed a delivery of heavier weapons to US-allied Kurdish fighters. A day earlier, US President Donald Trump “authorized the department of defense to equip Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces as necessary to ensure a clear victory over ISIS in Raqqa,” the White House said.

The first shipment also allegedly included 120mm mortars, machines guns, ammunition and light armored vehicles, according to US officials.

The US decision to arm the Kurdish militia in Syria has provoked serious concern in Turkey which perceives YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), classed a terrorist group in both Turkey and the US.

Turkish President, Recep Erdogan, called the US decision “a mistake” and urged US authorities to “reverse it immediately.”

His words were echoed by Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who warned that the decision to supply arms to Kurds would have “consequences” and a potentially “negative result” for Washington.

In response, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has promised to “work closely” with Turkey to sort out this issue.