USA arming Kurdish Syria fighters unacceptable, shouts Turkey

TURKEY'S DEPUTY PREMIER NURETTIN CANIKLI, referring to the U.S. plan to arm Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Syria.

Tabqa sits on the Euphrates as well as a strategic supply route about 55 km (35 miles) west of Raqqa.

"All the rumours and circulating news about the liberation of Tabqa and the dam through evacuating the terrorists. are baseless and far from the reality", the SDF wrote in a subsequent statement, "compared to the continued battles and intensive clashes both in Sahl Khashab village and the new districts in Tabqa that include the first, second and third districts".

An alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters has announced it has taken a strategically important town from so-called Islamic State (IS). The SDF has already captured large swathes of territory north of Raqqa and in some areas its fighters are just 8km from the city.

They are now working to tighten the noose before a final assault.

The battle for Tabqa was marked by fears that fighting could damage the nearby dam - Syria's largest - with the potential for catastrophic flooding.

Ankara considers the YPG a terror threat to Turkey and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK - a group that has waged an insurgency in southern Turkey.

The YPG makes up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which on Wednesday scored a major victory against IS in the Syrian city of Tabqa.

Is he overly concerned how ally Turkey may react?

"We support Turkey in its fight against PKK", he said.

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.

Defense Secretary James Mattis talks with the Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation eFP battalion battlegroup and the German contingent in Lithuania Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Huber as they meet with U.S. troops deployed in Lithuania, with representatives of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, and with soldiers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battlegroup in Lithuania at the General Silvestras Zukauskas Training Area on May 10, 2017.

"Both the PKK and YPG are terrorist organisations and they are no different apart from their names", he said.

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.

The Pentagon said only that Mr Mattis "reiterated U.S. commitment to our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally".

"I hope very much that this mistake will be reversed immediately", Erdogan said in Ankara alongside Sierra Leone counterpart Ernest Bai Koroma.

The coalition said Thursday that Islamic State had moved its external attack planning operations to Tabqa after their defeat in Manbij in order to avoid coalition airstrikes in Raqqa.

  • Julie Sanders