World Obama waivers prohibitions on arms to non-state actors in Syria

Obama waivers prohibitions on arms to non-state actors in Syria
Fighters of the Kurdish Women's Protection Units (YPJ) participate in military training in the western countryside of the town of Serekaniye, Syrian Kurdistan, January 25, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - United States President Barack Obama waivered prohibitions on providing arms transfers to irregular armies fighting terrorism in Syria on Thursday.

The move came as Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) pressed on the Islamic State capital of Raqqa, and the Syrian regime further tightened the noose on CIA-supported rebels in eastern Aleppo with the help of Russian airpower.

In a memorandum for the State and Defense Departments Obama said the transaction of the provision of defense articles to forces or groups engaged in supporting ongoing US military operations to counter terrorism was essential to national security interests.

It was not clear in the presidential order released on the White House website which groups specifically would benefit from the lifting of legal US restrictions on less restricted military aid.

But the emphasis on alignment with the US and counter-terrorism implied the receivers could be Kurdish or Kurdish-led forces, including the People's Protection Units (YPG) which makes the main bulk of the SDF.

Also, the US priority in Syria is the defeat of the IS and not a regime change in Damascus.

Obama's decision followed the last week Congressional authorization of the incoming Trump administration to arm "vetted Syrian rebels" with anti-aircraft missiles, or MANPADs.

The latest steps taken by Washington have irritated both its NATO ally Turkey which is a vehement opponent of any Kurdish gains in Syria and Russia whose warplanes attack opposition forces on a daily base.

A Turkish pro-government newspaper, Star, came out on Friday with a headline accusing the US of preparing to give Stinger missiles to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) whose name Ankara uses synonymously with the YPG and the ruling Democratic Union Party (PYD) of Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).

In Moscow, a spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin denounced further US arms transports to groups in Syria, said Reuters.

Kremlin's Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a press conference that the US decision to lift some restrictions on weapon deliveries to Syrian rebels was risky because weapons might end up in the hands of "terrorists."


Editing by Ava Homa