Senator Joni Ernst is applauding the Trump Administration’s decision to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria.
“This is an immense milestone,” Ernst says.
Ernst, a veteran of the Iraq war, has long argued the U.S. should arm Kurdish fighters known as the Peshmerga in Iraq. Last week’s decision, however, arms Kurdish units in Syria known as the YPG.
“They are heavily involved in the fighting against ISIS. And why would we not engage them? They have worked quite well with American forces and it’s the right thing to do,” Ernst says. “And I’m glad to see the president stands behind that.”
The decision is linked to the effort to retake the city of Raqqa. ISIS has considered Raqqa as its capital for the past four years. Syrian Defense Forces, led by Kurds, are poised to liberate the city, but it has created tensions with Turkey. Turkey labels the Kurds as terrorists.
Ernst says she doesn’t think Raqqa could be liberated without these Kurdish forces fighting inside Syria.
“If we engage the forces in the Middle East, that means there’s less American boots on the ground there and that’s exactly what we want,” Ernst says. “Those that have a particular stake in an issue need to put the skin in the game.”
Reports from Kurdish media indicated the Kurdish-led forces captured a cotton mill and ISIS prison a few miles north of Raqqa and were advancing on the outskirts of the city this weekend. The military campaign to retake the city ISIS has held since 2013, though, is expected to last for weeks.