The US has for the first time supplied Guardian M117 armored vehicles to the Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC), a grouping of anti-Assad and Anti-ISIS forces, Voice of America reported quoting a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.
The SAC is an Arab fighting force within the multi-ethnic, but predominantly Kurdish, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The Guardians are highly maneuverable and capable of carrying 10 soldiers each - will help SAC forces better “withstand explosive devices and small-arms fire," VOA further quoted a US Army spokesperson.
“The Syrian Arab Coalition is getting ready to continue their operations to isolate Raqqa," the spokesperson said. "As they approach the city and get into tough fighting, this capability is going to increase their survivability."
Each Guardian is equipped with machine guns and a grenade launcher.
Multiple U.S. defense officials said the delivery had “been in the works for months” and was carried out under authority granted during the Obama administration.
“There is no change to current policy by providing support to the Syrian Arab coalition,” Meyer said.
Washington has supplied the SDF with light weapons and special-forces advisers in the past and has provided air support against Islamic State fighters.
An estimated 20,000 SDF fighters are connected to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers a terrorist group. Even though the U.S. insists it only delivers military aid to the Arab fighters of the SDF, the assistance nonetheless has angered U.S. ally Turkey.