Turkey president: Trump arming Syrian Kurds a 'mistake'

Paola Ditto
Mag 14, 2017

The SOHR report stated the ISIS militants were to withdraw from the SDF-held areas into the ISIS-controlled ones, including to Raqqa, the group's de facto capital in Syria. "The SDF partnered with enabling support from United States and coalition forces are the only force on the ground to successfully seize Raqqah in the near future", White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed on Wednesday. In announcing the decision on Tuesday to arm the Kurds, the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman, Dana W. White, called the militia "the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future".

Dorrian said the SDF fully isolated IS fighters in the Taqba dam, the largest dam in Syria which is a key source of electricity for the region, from the rest of the city.

US forces were able to help the SDF conduct an airborne landing on the bank of the Euphrates River in late March, allowing them to win control of a critical airbase nearby, Reuters said.

De Mistura spoke ahead of a planned resumption of United Nations -mediated talks between the Syrian government and opposition next week in Geneva.

Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of mainly Kurdish and Arab fighters, took the city on Wednesday, SDF spokesman Talal Silo said. But the Kurdish YPG, which forms the backbone of the group, is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which Turkey, the US and other Western nations view as a terrorist group.

The president said he would express his concerns in this regard at the meeting with his USA counterpart Donald Trump on May 16, adding the same issue would also be brought up at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit to be held in Brussels on May 25.

Mr Erdogan said: "I hope that it [the US] will turn away from this wrong".

The authorization of arms to the Kurds came despite strong opposition to the move from Turkey, the UK's Guardian reported on May 9. Raqqa is very important for Daesh, it is a strategic place.

Mattis acknowledged Turkey's concerns that weapons could end up in the hands of the Kurdish militants in Turkey, known as the PKK.

USA officials had indicated in recent days that the US could send 120mm mortars, machines guns, ammunition and light armored vehicles to the Kurds.

The official wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the decision and demanded anonymity.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on Thursday made clear that America is committed to protecting Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally upset the Trump administration has agreed to arm anti-Islamic State fighters in Syria that Turkey considers terrorists.

"We will work together".

The YPG said on Thursday that it would seek "neighbourly relations" with Turkey. "I'm not concerned at all about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance and the relations between our nations", he told reporters, as he toured a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation training site outside Vilnius, Lithuania.

Mattis has played down the friction between the allies, saying that while "it's not always tidy", they will resolve any differences. Unnerved by the Kurdish advances along the border, Turkey sent troops into Syria past year to help allied Syrian forces battle IS and block the SDF.

Since then, Turkey is believed to have positioned more than 5,000 troops in northern Syria, and has escalated its airstrikes and cross border artillery attacks against the Kurdish forces.

This undated image posted online Monday, May 1, 2017, by supporters of the Islamic State militant group on an anonymous photo sharing website, purports to show an Islamic State fighter firing his weapon during clashes with USA -backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa.

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