US 'takes control' of Rmeilan airfield in Syria

Under a deal with Kurdish group, activists say US will use airfield to support fighters against ISIL in northern Syria.

by
    US 'takes control' of Rmeilan airfield in Syria
    Syria Democratic Forces - Hasakah

    Correction: An earlier version of this story eroneously showed a photo the Prince Sultan airbase in Saudi Arabia instead of the Rmeilan airfield in Syria. 

    US troops have taken control of Rmeilan airfield in Syria's northern province of Hasakah to support Kurdish fighters against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told Al Jazeera.

    The airfield near the city of Rmeilan, which will become the first US-controlled airbase in Syria, was previously controlled by the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

    The airfield is close to Syria's borders with Iraq and Turkey.

    ISIL in Syria confronted by new alliance of opposition groups

    "Under a deal with the YPG, the US was given control of the airport. The purpose of this deal is to back up the SDF, by providing weapons and an airbase for US warplanes," Taj Kordsh, a media activist from the SDF told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

    "This airport was previously controlled by the YPG for over two years now. This strategic airport is close to several oil bases - one of the biggest in this area.

    "Rmeilan airport was previously used for agricultural purposes by the Syrian government," he said.

    Previous reports published by the Syrian Local Coordination Committees say that the US has been preparing and expanding Rmeilan airport for a while now.

    When asked by Al Jazeera, a US CENTCOM media operations officer did not confirm or deny the reports.


    Kurdish-Arab coalition in Syria forms political wing


    The US has previously supplied the SDF with weapons. It also backs the group with its air strikes in their fight against (ISIL) in northern Syria.

    The SDF was founded in Syria's mainly Kurdish northeastern region in October 2015, and is made up of at least 15 armed factions - mostly fighters from the YPG and the Free Syrian Army.

    The fighters include Christians, Arabs and about 500 foreign fighters, Kordsh said, adding that some groups in Aleppo and Idlib pledged allegiance to the SDF last month.

    The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor also reported on Tuesday that the US had taken control of the airbase. 

    Sourcing activists, the Observatory said the airfield is still being prepared for use by the US.

     

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Assad to Putin: Thank you for 'saving our country'

    Assad to Putin: Thank you for 'saving our country'

    Russian and Syrian presidents meet to discuss strategy against 'terrorism' and political settlement options.

    Is Saudi Arabia becoming a danger to the region?

    Is Saudi Arabia becoming a danger to the region?

    We talk to US Congressman Ro Khanna about power politics and debate Mohammed bin Salman's new strategy for the Kingdom.

    Gender violence in India: 'Daughters are not a burden'

    Gender violence in India: 'Daughters are not a burden'

    With female foeticide still widespread, one woman tells her story of being mutilated for giving birth to her daughters.