US or­ders troops in Syria to re­move Kur­dish in­signia

Pakistan Observer - - PAGE -

WASHINGTON—Amer­i­can spe­cial op­er­a­tions troops were not au­tho­rized to wear the patches of Kur­dish forces while ad­vis­ing them in Syria and have been told to re­move them, the U.S. mil­i­tary spokesman in Bagh­dad said Fri­day, af­ter Turk­ish lead­ers protested.

Army Col. Steve War­ren said that while U.S. spe­cial op­er­a­tions forces have his­tor­i­cally and rou­tinely worn the in­signia of for­eign troops they are work­ing with, this case was not ap­pro­pri­ate due largely to po­lit­i­cal sen­si­tiv­i­ties.

Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu said it was “un­ac­cept­able” for sol­diers of a Turk­ish ally to use the patches of the YPG, the Kur­dish Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units fight­ing the Is­lamic State group. Turkey views the YPG as an ex­ten­sion of the Kur­dish Work­ers’ Party, or PKK, an armed in­sur­gent group which it has fought for decades and is con­sid­ered a ter­ror or­ga­ni­za­tion by Turkey, the United States and the Euro­pean Union.

Photos of U.S. spe­cial op­er­a­tions forces wear­ing the in­signia sur­faced this week, and Turk­ish lead­ers re­layed their com­plaint to the U.S.

“There’s po­lit­i­cal sen­si­tiv­i­ties around the or­ga­ni­za­tion that that patch rep­re­sents, and that makes it in­ap­pro­pri­ate,” War­ren told Pen­tagon re­porters Fri­day. “These guys on the ground do what they’re go­ing to do and they have their cus­toms and cour­te­sies that they have been fol­low­ing for years. But it’s also im­por­tant to un­der­stand the larger strate­gic con­text ... and I think that’s the in­ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of it, is that they didn’t un­der­stand that.” War­ren said Army reg­u­la­tions do not au­tho­rize troops to wear for­eign patches, but the prac­tice has gone on for years among com­man­does as part of an ef­fort to con­nect with the troops they are train­ing.

Gen. Joseph Vo­tel, com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, said Fri­day that the U.S. has made it clear that to de­feat the Is­lamic State, “we would need to work with many dif­fer­ent el­e­ments op­er­at­ing on the ground in Iraq and Syria,” and the U.S. will con­tinue to do that. War­ren said the troops were told the re­move the patches and that he was not aware of any dis­ci­pline re­lated to the in­ci­dent.—AP

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