U.S. tells Turkey it supports Ankara's fight against PKK

The US "may have begun" dispersing weapons to Kurdish YPG fighters in #Syria "very quickly", in support of the operation to retake Raqqa from the so-called Islamic State.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking during a visit to Montenegro yesterday, said weapons supplied to the YPG had, in the past, fallen into PKK hands.

A top Syrian Kurdish official said Wednesday, May 10, 2017, that the US decision to arm Kurdish fighters with heavier weapons will help legitimize the force, which is denounced as a terrorist organization by Turkey.

US -backed Syrian militias seized the town of Tabqa and Syria's largest dam from the Islamic State extremist group on May 10, clearing the way for an assault on Raqqa.

But Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli told A Haber television, "We can not accept the presence of terrorist organizations that would threaten the future of the Turkish state".

The decision received immediate pushback from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who regards the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by both Ankara and Washington.

The issue risks further stoking tensions between Ankara and Washington less than a week before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan heads to Washington to meet his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in their first face-to-face encounter as heads of state.

The defense secretary, speaking to reporters aboard a US military airplane after the meeting in London, characterized the discussions as "honest, transparent and helpful".

At least seven civilians were reported killed on Wednesday night by airstrikes allegedly from the US-led coalition in al-Sour town in Deir Ezzor, eastern Syria, said human rights organizations.

While the government expressed predictable anger, the deputy head of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Ozturk Yilmaz said it should go even further by postponing Erdogan's visit to the U.S.

Washington insiders were quick to point out a similar attitude that occurred following the constitutional referendum in Turkey, where clashing views of Trump and other officials serving him were revealed.

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Wednesday (10 May) captured Syria's Tabqa town from the Isis as part of their campaign to liberate Raqqa from the Islamist jihadists.

"There is still an opportunity for the United States to take Turkey's sensitivities into consideration". "The argument that a ground operation in the fight against Daesh (IS) would be successful only with YPG has nothing to do with reality", he said.

Next week, Erdogan will be able to press the point in person, when he meets Trump at the White House.

"We'll work out any of the concerns".

The Turks will be notified about the decision on arming Syrian Kurdish forces soon and the Pentagon expects a strong reaction.

The capture of Tabqa, a key step in the advance on Raqqa, the extremist group's de-facto capital, came seven weeks after the launch of the Kurdish-led offensive, backed by the USA -led global coalition.

"The supply of arms to the YPG is unacceptable", he said.

Under Trump, the Pentagon has made quiet, incremental additions to troop levels in Syria, adding hundreds of Marines to provide artillery support and sending more advisers to work with Kurdish units ahead of the fight for Raqqa.

  • Leroy Wright