U.S. cuts defence funding to anti-ISIS Kurdish-led fighters in Syria
U.S. President Joe Biden’s defence budget for 2022 will cut funding to the Kurdish-led Syrian Defence Forces (SDF) and other groups fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

Biden has requested a total of $715 billion in defence spending for the fiscal year 2022, which must now be approved by Congress, Ahval reported.
Of the $522 million in funding to combat ISIS, $177 million will be spent on assisting “vetted Syrian groups and individuals”, which includes both the SDF and the Maghawir al-Thawra militia group. The remaining $345 million will go to the Iraqi security forces.
This figure is down from the $200 million Syrian groups, including the SDF, received in 2020.
The United States supported the creation of the SDF in 2015 through the combination of the predominantly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), with a number of smaller Syrian militias to provide the ground forces for the international coalition’s campaign against ISIS.
The group now controls around one-third of Syrian territory, spanning crucial agricultural regions in the north to the country’s largest oil and gas fields in the east, and continues to battle a significant ISIS insurgency.
The United States has repeatedly wavered in its support for the SDF under pressure from NATO ally Turkey, which regards the Kurdish-led group as a security threat over historic links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for Kurdish self-rule for four decades.
Following the instability under former U.S. President Donald Trump, the SDF leadership has been hoping for more steadfast support from the Biden administration and hired a Washington lobbying firm at the end of April to advocate on their behalf.
But despite a 1.7 percent increase in Biden’s overall defence budget, the $522 million in funding for anti-ISIS in Syria and Iraq groups represents a cut from $710 million in 2021 and $1.2 billion in 2020.
In a statement on Friday, the Department of Defense said the budget reflected Biden’s priorities to end U.S. involvement in the “forever wars”, referring to longstanding military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The focus would instead be on the “substantial challenges, emanating from countries like China and Russia”, the department said.
Reporter's code: 50101