Miércoles, 15 Agosto, 2018

Turkey condemns United States move to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters

After taking Tabqa SDF forces are expected to advance towards Raqqa After taking Tabqa SDF forces are expected to advance towards Raqqa
Eleena Tovar | 15 May, 2017, 20:14

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that U.S. President Trump had approved the arming of the YPG "as necessary to ensure a clear victory" in a planned operation to retake the northern Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State (IS).

The SDF is dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), seen by the U.S. as an indispensable ally in the fight against ISIL but considered a "terrorist group" by Turkey.

A military official told VOA the United States will provide Kurdish forces around Raqqa with small arms, machine-guns, ammunition, and armored vehicles to counter improvised explosive devices and construction equipment.

The roughly half-hour meeting in London appeared to be the highest level talks between the two nations since Washington announced on Tuesday plans to back the YPG militia in an assault to retake the city of Raqqa from Islamic State.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis has assured Turkey that Washington is committed to protecting its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, while Ankara is infuriated by a US plan to arm Kurdish fighters.

It was the first face-to-face meeting of top officials from the two nations since the Pentagon announced the USA would arm Syrian Kurds in the fight to oust Islamic State militants from the group's stronghold in Raqqa.

Sources said technicians at the dam had fled as fighting intensified in recent days, and on Thursday a fix team was on standby to enter and assess any damage to the structure after the SDF finished clearing mines laid by ISIL.

Mr Erdogan has argued that the YPG should be excluded from the Raqqa offensive and urged the USA to switch to supporting a Syrian Arab rebel force that has driven IS out of a border area in the past year with the help of the Turkish military.

"The delivery of heavy weapons to the People's Protection Units (YPG) is a crisis itself", Isik said.

Speaking to reporters before departing for London on Wednesday, Yildirim said Turkey can not accept "direct or indirect" support for the Kurdish rebels, known as the PKK.

A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces poses with a machine gun in Tabqa, April 30 2017.

A spokesman for the USA -led coalition against IS, Col. John Dorrian, said Wednesday that the weapons would be delivered to the Kurds soon.

In March, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Turkey to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who sees the YPG as terrorists.

Mattis "reiterated USA commitment to protecting our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally", spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement.

For its part, the YPG praised on Wednesday the "historic" U.S. decision to arm its fighters battling ISIL and said it expected to play a stronger and more influential role in what it called the fight against "terrorism". 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.

Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of mainly Kurdish and Arab fighters, took the city on Wednesday, SDF spokesman Talal Silo said.