US President Donald Trump has approved the arming of Kurdish rebels in Syria.
The rebel group being armed is called the Syrian Democratic Force, and is expected to soon launch an operation to retake the city of Raqqa in central Syria.
Raqqa has been controlled by ISIS since 2014.
Said Pentagon spokesperson Dana White, “The (Syrian Democratic Force), partnered with enabling support from U.S. and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future.”
Some of the American equipment that will be used to arm the rebels is already close-by, meaning the rebels could be equipped quickly.
Among the items expected to be delivered are engineering equipment, rifles, armor, radios, bulldozers, and ammunition.
The decision to arm the rebels will not be received well by Turkey. That nation is worried about the Kurds forming an independent nation, and any effort by the US to arm Kurdish rebels will increase tensions between Turkey and the US.
The Pentagon has responded to those concerns, saying, “We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey. We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the U.S. is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally.”
Trump and Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan will meet at the White House next week, and the arming of the Kurdish rebels will certainly be a big topic of speculation.