Turkey sends military reinforcements into Syria amidst intensifying clashes with Kurdish YPG
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 23, 2017,
Jun 23, 2017, 22:42
Despite years of cooperation with Washington against the Islamic State, the Turkish government has designated the YPG a terrorist organization indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). "We will be tracking the process".
The United States will retrieve the weapons it sent to the PKK affiliate YPG in Syria's Raqqa when the Daesh terror group is defeated, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has said in a letter to his Turkish counterpart Fikri Işık.
American officials confirmed in May that they would provide weapons to the "Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)", a multi-ethnic coalition of militias led and primarily comprised of the YPG and their female unit, the YPJ. "If Tell Rifaat is going to be captured, then the threat to Azaz will be also eliminated because YPG units launch strikes on Azaz time and again", the FSA commander told Sputnik adding that it will be a ground and aerial operation.
In his letter, Mattis told Isik that the USA would take determined measures to address Turkey's security concerns, the sources said, and that Arabs would comprise 80 percent of the forces to capture Syria's Raqqa from Daesh. Such a list was handed over to Turkey earlier this month, he said.
The United States sees the YPG as an essential ally in the campaign to defeat Islamic State in Raqqa, the jihadists' main urban base in Syria. The BBC reported Friday that the YPG and allied SDF members have reached "the edge of the old city" of Raqqa and must now take extra precautions as they begin to sweep block by block of the city.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Turkish forces had crossed the border in the last 24 hours and headed towards areas south of Azaz town, which is held by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.
Turkey considers the YPG to be the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organisation, which has waged war against the Turkish state since 1984, and has said that it would retaliate against the YPG if it felt threatened by the group.
A rebel from a Turkish-backed group has also said Turkey sent in more forces but there has been no confirmation from officials in Ankara.