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The New Arab

Three Americans backing Kurdish forces killed in Syria

The US has been relying on the Kurdish YPG militia to fight IS [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 August, 2016

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Three American nationals have been killed in Syria while fighting alongside Kurdish forces near the recently captured town of Manbij.

Three American nationals have been killed in Syria while fighting alongside Kurdish forces near the recently captured town of Manbij, a Kurdish security source told The New Arab on Tuesday.

The bodies of the three US combatants killed last week were transferred to the US Consulate in the Iraqi city of Erbil to be flown to the US at a later time.

The source said the US nationals had been assisting Kurdish forces for around a year in northern Syria.

"Authorities at the Faysh Khabur border crossing between Syria and Iraq received the three bodies under the supervision of staff members from the US Consulate in Erbil," a Peshmerga officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

"Kurdish-Syrian fighters delivered the bodies after they were taken to a field field hospital when they fell in battle."

The director of Faysh Khabur border crossing, Shaukat Barbharri, confirmed the report adding that the soldiers had died while fighting with the Kurdish People's Protection Units [YPG].

Read also: Kurdish disunity on the frontlines in Iraq and Syria (Part I & Part II)

     
      Turkey has launched an offensive into northern Syria [Getty]

The US has been relying on the Kurdish YPG militia backed by support from the US-led coalition and 200 US special operations forces to fight the Islamic State group [IS].

The YPG is also a key component of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF], which groups diverse factions battling the jihadists.

Last week, Turkey launched a two-pronged operation inside Syria against Kurdish forces and IS.

After a weekend of Turkish clashes with YPG-allied forces, Washington has expressed alarm and urged both sides to stop fighting each other and concentrate on combatting IS.

Turkey on Wednesday said it did "not accept" US claims that it had agreed on a truce with Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria.

The strikes against the YPG are hugely sensitive as the outfit - seen as a terror group by Ankara - is allied with Turkey's NATO partner the United States.

Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] which has waged a bloody war against the Turkish state since 1984.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article contained a mistranslation suggesting the deceased American citizens were US special forces. The US nationals reportedly killed have no confirmed official capacity. The New Arab apologises for this error.

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