Erdogan criticises United States plan to arm YPG in Syria

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said yesterday he was confident the United States would be able to resolve tensions with Turkey over the US decision to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria.

It's the first meeting of the officials 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.

John Dorrian - the spokesman for the US-led coalition against ISIS called Operation Inherent Resolve - earlier tweeted that nearly all of the city has been seized and that fighters were clearing two neighborhoods.

The SDF is a multiethnic group spearheaded by the YPG, an organization Ankara considers the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization in Turkey, the US, and EU.

"We've got a certain amount of supply in the country already that was used to equip the Syrian Arab Coalition and some of that may be distributed very quickly", Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the USA -led campaign against ISIS, told Pentagon reporters.

Mattis met with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in London on Thursday in what appeared to be the highest level talks between the two nations since Tuesday, when US President Donald Trump approved a plan to directly arm Syrian Kurds against Daesh terrorists to retake Raqqah.

On April 27, Turkish warplanes struck YPG forces in Syria and also hit Kurdish forces in neighboring Iraq in what Ankara described as "terrorist havens".

This is while Yildrim said, "There is still an opportunity for the United States to take Turkey's sensitivities into consideration". He and other officials have said the USA will closely monitor the weapons' distribution and insure that they are used only against IS.

The Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) has been seen by Washington as the best ally against jihadists in Syria.

Ankara has argued that Washington should switch support for the Raqqa assault from the YPG to Syrian rebels that Turkey has trained and led against ISIS for the past year - despite Washington's scepticism about their military capability.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the reverse its decision, saying weapons in the hands of the Kurdish-led forces are a "threat" to his country.

It considers the YPG an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

A first consignment of weapons is already in place for delivery and could be dispatched to the Kurds "very quickly", US Colonel John Dorrian said Wednesday.

Col Dorrian said the arms include heavy machine guns to be used against ISIL lorry bombs, mortars, small arms and ammunition, as well as armoured vehicles and equipment to detect landmines.

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.

  • Leroy Wright