US denies sending Spec Ops forces to attend ‘terrorist’ funerals despite reports

US troops driving by a funeral procession for YPG soldiers.

The United States denies sending special operations troops to attend a funeral for several Kurdish-affiliated fighters in Syria, despite Turkish news reports to the contrary.

In a bold move by the Erdoğan-influenced conservative Turkish news outlet Yeni Şafak (who has repeatedly made international news for disinformation campaigns, fabricated interviews, attacks on journalists and anti-Semitic/LGBT remarks), the mouthpiece publication made claims that the United States sent special operations forces to protect -and attend the funeral of- members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and People’s Protection Units (YPG). In both headlines, the Turkish agency refers to these organizations as “terrorists.”

Turkey has traditionally had a tumultuous relationship with the Kurdish people, which dates back for decades. The largest ethnic minority in Turkey, the Kurds are particularly unpopular with the country’s more conservative and pro-Islamic population sects.

Truthfully, the Kurdish-Turkish conflict between the Republic of Turkey and various Kurdish groups has been going on since 1978 and shows no signs of stopping until the Kurds can claim an independent Kurdistan for themselves.

Recent strikes against the Kurds by Turkey have prompted the US to move in as a buffer between the Turks and Kurds, the latter of which has proven itself as one of America’s more dependable local allies in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

While some sects of the Kurdish militant movement have been traditionally aligned with leftist-ideologies, the United States took careful measures to balance their roles with Kurdish and Turkish allies, respectively.

“The patrols’ purpose is to discourage escalation and violence between two of our most trusted (counter-ISIS) partners and reinforce the US commitment to both Turkey and the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] in their fight against ISIS,” the US-led joint command said in a statement last week.

In a Pentagon Press Corps briefing today, Combined Joint Task Force- Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Colonel John Dorian denied that US troops were attending a funeral and explained the roles of the Kurdish factions in regards to the war on ISIS.

“With regard to the YPG [erroneously initially mentioned as the PKK], they are a part of the Syrian Democratic Forces,” he said earlier today. “The Syrian-Arab Coalition is a part of the Syrian Democratic Forces as well.”

Dorian added that the SDF forces are effective at keeping their guns trained on the enemy, not friendly forces.

“We had heard reports of [infighting], we have not seen tremendous amounts of that,” he said, adding that there seems to be less violence committed where US forces are located, namely in “de-escalation zones.”

In regards to the funeral services, Dorrian denied American involvement, particularly in regards to US special operations troops performing a “peacekeeping” role.

“With regard to a peacekeeping role, I think that’s an expanded mission,” he said, adding that the role of US forces is to “observe & report,” as well as boost confidence of indigenous forces.

Dorrian further denied that the YPG has shown any evidence of working with the PKK, praising them for taking back several ISIS strongholds.

Lastly, the Colonel gave high regards to Turkish troops, who have proven themselves in the fight against the Islamic State, as well, noting that all friendly forces work together.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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