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We can not accept U.S. to arm YPG: Turkish deputy PM

US official: White House approves supply of weapons to YPG in Syria Trump agrees to further arm Syrian Democratic Forces to seize Raqqa
Eleena Tovar | 10 May, 2017, 16:53

The Pentagon sought to stress the reasoning behind its decision, saying that it was "necessary to ensure a clear victory" against the IS group in Raqqa.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, which have driven IS from much of northern Syria over the past two years with the help of US -led airstrikes, are among the most effective ground forces battling the extremists.

"We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey", she said.

"The secretary reiterated the U.S. commitment to protecting our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and preventing additional safety and security risks", the spokesperson stated on Tuesday.

The Pentagon said that it would continue prioritizing the arming of Arab forces in Syria, but acknowledged Ankara's concerns in the statement announcing the decision.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Wednesday that Turkey's position against US decision to use PKK-linked Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) to eradicate Daesh remains the same.

Trump is expected to officially inform Erdogan of his decision Tuesday, when he visits the White House.

Officials from the Turkish embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Times regarding the YPG arms deal.

Together the United States can "turn Raqqa into a graveyard for Daesh (IS)", Erdogan said last month.

A defense official told NPR's Tom Bowman that the US plans to provide the Kurdish forces with small arms, including rifles and machine guns, as well as other military equipment. The intent is to restrict the distribution and use of the weaponry and then require the Kurds to return it to US control, the officials said.

The weapons will go to the fighters ahead of a upcoming offensive to recapture Raqa, the last major bastion for IS in Syria and the capital of their supposed "caliphate".

Relations between the two allies were already tense after Turkish warplanes bombed US -backed Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria last month, and Turkish officials threatened further strikes. The course is administered by Special Operations Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve trainers.

Pressed about the matter, Mattis said he did not want to disclose US battlefield plans but suggested confidence that Washington and Ankara would get past the impasse.

"Our intent is to work with the Turks alongside one another to take Raqqa down, " Mattis said during a news conference in Denmark.

That's not to say we all walk into the room with exactly the same appreciation of the problem or the path forward.

"We're going to sort it out", he replied.

Turkey is concerned that Syrian Kurdish elements along the country's southern border could pose a threat to its national security in the future.