Reporting ISIS to have been effectively defeated in Syria, Defense Secretary James Mattis said he believes the US focus in the nation needs to reflect the changing situation on the ground, and that is going to include the focus of arming and training programs.
While he offered no specific details on timing, Mattis did confirm this change would include halting US arms shipments for the Kurdish YPG, saying the US “obviously don’t need that” if they aren’t launching offensives.
Rather, Mattis said the focus was on holding territory, and that the US needs to start supporting police and local forces in former ISIS territory captured by the Kurds. Exactly how these factions would be affiliated with the YPG itself is unclear.
Ending direct armament of the YPG could potentially placate Turkey, which has been complaining for years about the US support for the Kurds. It is noteworthy, however, that Mattis did not suggest the US would actively try to disarm the YPG.