Trump Agrees To Arm Kurds In Syria Despite Turkey's Opposition

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13 May, 2017

After meeting with Yildirim in London, Defense Secretary James Mattis said he has "no doubt" that Turkey and the U.S.

US-backed fighters hunted for militant holdouts in Syria's Tabqa on Thursday after overrunning the city and nearby dam in a step forward for their advance on Islamic State group stronghold Raqa.

A Pentagon spokesperson says both leaders affirmed their support for peace and stability in Iraq and Syria. Erdogan has called on Washington to reverse its decision to arm the PKK, saying it hopes its allies will not side with terrorists.

SDF deputy head Qahraman Hassan said his forces would receive "special weapons and armoured vehicles" to enter the city, after U.S. president Donald Trump changed United States policy to allow arms deliveries to the Syrian Kurdish component of the alliance - the People Protection Units, or YPG.

The U.S. considers the Kurdish fighters as the most effective group in the fight against Islamic State militants.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also said to reporters that the US failure to consider Turkey's sensitivities "will surely have consequences". "We hope the USA administration will put a stop to this wrong and turn back from it", he said in an interview with Turkish broadcaster A Haber.

Turkish main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) criticized on Wednesday the US decision, urging President Erdogan to cancel his upcoming visit to the U.S.

Before his meeting with Mattis, Yildirim had warned that "there is still an opportunity for the United States to take Turkey's sensitivities into consideration". The YPG has consistently cooperated with the United States, sharing ground intelligence on ISIS targets in Rojava.

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The group in question within the SDF, the People's Protection Units (YPG), does have connections to the PKK.

Turkey's president on Friday insisted that a US decision this week to arm Kurdish militias in northern Syria was a hangover policy of the Obama administration, days before he was due to meet the new US President Donald Trump. So to the frustration and horror of us Turks, they not only train them for combat but also give them heavy arms that will sooner or later be turned against Turkey in the hands of PKK terrorists. He also said that once it starts it will not be publicly acknowledged by the U.S. In a report published Thursday, the Turkish state-run Anadolu News Agency describes the PKK as an "umbrella organization" that "franchises" itself to regional affiliates, making global support of their subgroups more palatable.

According to the New York Times, the delegation was informed of the decision to arm the YPG by Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

A first consignment of US weapons is already in place for delivery and could be dispatched to the Kurds "very quickly", US Colonel John Dorrian said Wednesday.

A U.S. defence official told AFP earlier this week that the equipment would include small arms, ammunition, machineguns, armoured vehicles and bulldozers.Inside Tabqa, AFP's correspondent saw destroyed shops in the main marketplace, where jihadists had scrawled many of their slogans.

"The battle for Raqqa has restarted after a short stall".

"It doesn't change the fact that when we see ISIS fighters on the battlefield and have a clean shot at them, we will continue to take it".

The YPG says the USA commitment to the group, and its umbrella coalition the Syrian Democratic Forces, will allow it to expand its operations against IS.


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