An armed Syrian opposition group has received a batch of weapons from the United States in northern Syria, a media activist for the group told Al Jazeera.
“We did receive weapons from the US, which has been backing the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] for a while now with weaponry and air strikes,” Taj Kordsh, from the SDF’s media office, told Al Jazeera on Thursday.
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 Kurdish People’s Protection Units 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 group was originally a united coalition made up of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units and Kurdish Women’s Protection Units and several smaller groups.
It is not clear how many fighters make up the SDF, but Kordsh confirmed to Al Jazeera that there are at least 30,000 fighters currently active in northern Syria.
“The US-led coalition has a big role with the SDF, they back us up with their air strikes which we see as crucial in our fight against ISIL. We coordinate with the coalition on a regular basis.
“Our main enemy right now is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL], as well as al-Nusra Front. We are battling ISIL in Hasakah, Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. We are trying to regain territory taken over by ISIL.
“Right now, we are aiming to retake al-Shadadi in the southern suburbs of Hasakah province, if we do, we will cut supply lines for ISIL in Hasakah and Deir Ezzor.
“In November we managed to recapture al-Hol in the eastern suburbs of Hasakah province.
“We received orders from the US to direct our military offensive towards Raqqa province, and cut all supply routes to areas controlled by ISIL.”
Last week, the SDF announced the formation of a Syrian Democratic Council, the political branch of the forces.
The group’s mission is to establish a democratic and secular Syria, with the help of other factions that agree with their goals.