Published: Wed, May 10, 2017
U.S. | By Vera Richards

Trump authorises arming Kurds in Syria

Trump authorises arming Kurds in Syria

A top aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that USA troops could be hit by Turkish missiles if they stay in the region alongside the Kurdish fighters.

The militants' capital of their supposed "caliphate" is being surrounded by a Kurdish and Syrian Arab alliance and officials are expecting a brutal fight to retake the city.

"The SDF, partnered with enabling support from US and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future", said Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana W. White. The main Kurdish element is the Kurdish Protection Units, known as the YPG, that has successfully pushed back ISIS from towns and cities in northern Syria. The move has been long opposed by Turkey which sees the groups as an extension of Kurdish terrorist organizations that have conducted attacks inside Turkey.

Turkey carried out a series of airstrikes against the YPG last month, a move that drew immediate complaints from United States officials.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is scheduled to meet with Mr. Trump in Washington in mid-May, and the American decision on arming the Kurds is likely to figure prominently in the discussion.

"With President Obama, we had a mutual agreement about the PKK - but Obama deceived us".

"There really can not be any ignoring the fact that the YPG is the official affiliate of a terrorist organization that Turkey has been fighting for over 30 years", Lister told AFP.

"But we will work it out".

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And in Denmark earlier Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the USA and Turkey are working out their differences.

Other officials said Trump's authorisation includes safeguards meant to reassure Ankara that the additional U.S. weaponry and equipment will not be used by the Kurds in Turkey.

Mattis, speaking before the announcement to reporters in Denmark and after talks with coalition members, sounded upbeat about working through tensions with Ankara.

"The Raqqa campaign is running in parallel with the worldwide coalition against terrorism".

The Turks will be notified about the decision soon and the officials expect a strong reaction from them.

"We examined the enemy situation and discussed the next steps to make sure we are all on the same sheet of music".

"We were troubled by that", Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said of Turkey's failure to give adequate warning of airstrikes in the Hasaka area.

After months of brutal, street-by-street combat, IS has now lost control of most of its stronghold of Mosul in Iraq, while the jihadists have become largely isolated in Raqa.

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