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US lifts sanctions on YPG-held Syrian territories

Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units militia (YPG)
Members of the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units militia (YPG), 28 February 2015 [Kurdishstruggle/Flickr]

The US issued a general licence on Thursday to exempt northern Syrian territories, including those controlled by the PKK's regional branch, the YPG, from American sanctions, Anadolu has reported.

The US Treasury Department's action lifts prohibitions on business activities in twelve different economic sectors in northern Syria, including agriculture, telecommunications, power grid infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, trade, finance and clean energy. Purchases of Syrian oil from the region are also permitted as long as they do not benefit the regime in Damascus.

The areas that are covered by the licence run from Aleppo governorate in the west to Hasakah governorate in the east. Geographical exemptions to the affected area are included.

Any business with the Syrian regime is unaffected by the announcement and is still prohibited under US law. Importing Syrian oil to the US also remains prohibited, according to the licence, which was signed by the Director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, Andrea Gacki.

The US has imposed sweeping sanctions on the regime and its leadership in retaliation for atrocities it has committed during the Syrian conflict, which is now in its 12th year. The YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK, remains in control of large swathes of north-east Syria with US backing.

The PKK is a designated terrorist organisation in Turkey and the US. However, Washington has refrained from designating the YPG and continues to partner with it in the region against the Daesh terrorist group, despite protests from Ankara.

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