US personnel in Iraq's Kurdistan region were there as part of the mission to defeat Daesh/ISIS when the convoy they were traveling in was targeted last week, Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said Thursday.
The convoy of YPG/PKK ringleader Ferhat Abdi Sahin, codenamed Mazloum Abdi, was targeted on April 7 by a drone strike near Sulaymaniyah International Airport. Three US personnel were in the convoy. The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) reported no injuries.
"On April 7, a convoy, including US personnel, was fired upon while in transit within the Iraqi Kurdistan region in the area near Sulaymaniyah," Ryder confirmed, adding that US forces are in Iraq and Syria in support of the "defeat ISIS mission."
"It struck more than 100 meters from the convoy and CENTCOM is currently investigating the incident," he added.
When asked what was the mission of the US personnel, he responded: "We're supporting the Iraqi security forces as part of the defeat ISIS mission. As you know, we have forces in Iraq. They're not conducting combat operations. They're advising and assisting the Iraqis. And then we have forces in Syria that are supporting the SDF."
He was referring to the Syrian Democratic Forces, the US's partner in Syria in the fight against Daesh/ISIS. The YPG/PKK terrorist group rebranded itself as the SDF to have a voice in talks on Syria.
In response to a question about the SDF's relation with the PKK, he said: "We have partnered with the SDF since 2014 as part of the defeat ISIS mission. We have a longstanding relationship with them. They are not the PKK."
The US policy on Syria has been one of the most challenging issues between the two NATO allies as Türkiye has never accepted the US’s backing of the YPG because of its ties to the PKK, which has been recognized as a terrorist organization by both Türkiye and the US.
The US on the other hand sees the YPG, which was renamed as the SDF, as a partner in the fight against Daesh/ISIS in Syria and does not recognize it as a terrorist group, although it does acknowledge the PKK as such.
The PKK has waged an armed campaign against Türkiye for more than 35 years and has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people.
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