News / Middle East

    US Envoy Meets with Syrian Kurds to Step Up Fight Against IS

    U.S. Presidential Envoy to Anti-Islamic State Coalition Brett McGurk visited Syria during the weekend to meet with local leaders, officials said Feb. 1, 2016. (Brett McGurk/Twitter)
    U.S. Presidential Envoy to Anti-Islamic State Coalition Brett McGurk visited Syria during the weekend to meet with local leaders, officials said Feb. 1, 2016. (Brett McGurk/Twitter)

    U.S. Presidential Envoy to Anti-Islamic State Coalition Brett McGurk visited northern Syria during the weekend to meet with local leaders, Kurdish and U.S. officials said Monday.

    McGurk's previously undisclosed visit came under tight security late Saturday and is the first visit by a top U.S. diplomat to the war-torn country since former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford left Damascus in 2012.

    McGurk traveled to Kobani, a town that witnessed one of the fiercest battles between Kurds and Islamic State (IS) militants last year and is now under Kurdish control.

    Anwar Muslim, the head of local government, said McGurk talked of bolstering Kurdish forces against IS.

    U.S. Presidential Envoy to Anti-Islamic State Coalition Brett McGurk arrived in Kobani over the weekend, officials said Feb. 1, 2016. (Facebook Photo Courtesy of Kurdish official Aldar Khalil)
    U.S. Presidential Envoy to Anti-Islamic State Coalition Brett McGurk arrived in Kobani over the weekend, officials said Feb. 1, 2016. (Facebook Photo Courtesy of Kurdish official Aldar Khalil)

    "[We] discussed next steps in Syria campaign [with] battle-tested and multi-ethnic anti-ISIL fighters," the U.S. diplomat said in a tweet about his visit, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

    Kobani last week celebrated the first anniversary of its liberation from IS militants.

    McGurk visited a cemetery for Kurdish fighters who died defending the city where are buried.

    "[I] paid respects to over 1,000 Kurdish martyrs from Kobani battle," he tweeted. He also posted some pictures of his visit in the city.

    The city has become a symbol of resistance in the face terror, Kurdish officials say.

    "Kobani does not only belong to us now. They [U.S. delegation] visited here because they played an important role in defeating Daesh [IS] in this city," Muslim told VOA.

    In order to reach the border town of Kobani, McGurk and his delegation crossed into Syria from the Kurdistan region of Iraq, according to a local activist who insisted on anonymity. McGurk took a 400-kilometer drive to Kobani, a route that was not possible a few months ago because IS militants were in control of areas between the Kurdish regions.

    U.S. Presidential Envoy to Anti-Islamic State Coalition Brett McGurk visited Syria during the weekend to meet with local leaders, officials said Feb. 1, 2016. (Brett McGurk/Twitter)
    U.S. Presidential Envoy to Anti-Islamic State Coalition Brett McGurk visited Syria during the weekend to meet with local leaders, officials said Feb. 1, 2016. (Brett McGurk/Twitter)

    With the help of the U.S.-led coalition, Kurdish forces retook most of these areas, including the strategic town of Tel Abyad in June 2015, making travel easier between Iraqi Kurdistan and much of Kurdish regions in Syria.

    The U.S. delegation in Kobani also met with commanders of YGP, a Kurdish force active in ground fighting against IS.

    The partnership between the international coalition and local forces in northern Syria has weakened IS and pushed the group from most of the areas it controlled in 2014, local officials say.

    "Our partnership is improving," Muslim said.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: MartinArcher from: USA
    February 02, 2016 7:24 AM
    To Anonymous, it is a sad day when the the US must look to the likes of Ayatollah to do the right thing. The US has truly lost its moral compass under the current White House and the last two Secretaries of State.
    In Response

    by: Med
    February 03, 2016 9:40 AM
    Ayatollah , mulla , nasrulla,whatever they all same there audiology is like a drage ,people just repeat what they say and what they do.. There is many things wrong in this cases how a democratic countries do what Erdogan say ,doesn't matter the reason, calling who fights for defending them self as a terrorists and who killing ,bombing and beheading other's as oppositions.
    In Response

    by: Med
    February 03, 2016 9:24 AM
    Martin Archer
    Its possible about what you say about America, but they they helped Kurds in kobani .

    by: martin archer from: usa
    February 01, 2016 6:06 PM
    The Kurds would be making a terrible mistake to move one inch towards ISIS in response to a American request until the US actually provides them with modern weapons and provides them with huge amounts of ammunition and money. American promises from generals answering to the current administration are not worth the paper they would be printed on.

    The current White House and it generals have totally lost their moral compass and are attempting to maintain the current national boundaries of the Syria and Iraq in order to placate Endogan and the Ayatollah who controls the Baghdad government.

    Beware Kurds, Beware. Don't trust promises - only actual deliveries and full recognition. Until then, don't move an inch until the next US government arrives and can cashier the current disgraceful lot.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    February 02, 2016 12:54 AM
    If the US drops the Kurds, there are always Iran and Russia that will help the Kurds.

    Iran was the first country to send weapons to the Kurds when ISIS was advancing towards Kurds and other countries and the US were just watching, because ISIS supporter Turkey demanded so.

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