Pentagon Reassures Turkey On Equipping Kurdish Elements In Syria

Pentagon Reassures Turkey On Equipping Kurdish Elements In Syria

A Pentagon source told the BBC the equipment would include ammunition, small arms, machine guns, heavy machine guns, construction equipment such as bulldozers and armoured vehicles.

President Donald Trump has brushed aside the vehement complaints of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey and authorized USA forces in Syria to arm the Kurdish YPG group leading the drive on the ISIS capital of Raqqa, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

"The SDF, partnered with enabling support from USA and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future", she added.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has been vocal about the issue and has said he would try to convince Trump that Turkish-backed forces should be used to retake Raqqa from IS when the two meet in mid-May.

Pressed about the matter, Mattis said he did not want to disclose USA battlefield plans but suggested confidence that Washington and Ankara would get past the impasse.

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The event raised money for the Committee to Protect Journalists and served as an opportunity to roast Trump. None of the White House staff were present on the occasion in support of the President's decision .

When asked whether the new arms deal with the YPG could put US forces in danger from Turkish airstrikes, Pentagon spokesman Maj.

Ankara had fiercely opposed supplying the Kurdish elements of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, viewing the YPG as the Syrian extension of the Kurdish PKK militant group, which has fought an insurgency in Turkey's southeast since 1984.

The Turkish position has created a dilemma for USA military officials, who see no viable alternative force in Syria capable of and willing to mount an assault on the Islamic State's final stronghold.

"We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey".

But a group of Kurdish fighters, commonly referred to as the People's Protection Units or YPG, is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, another US ally fighting ISIS.

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And in Denmark earlier Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he had useful discussions with Turkey and described the two countries as working out differences over a USA alliance with Syrian Kurds in fighting Islamic State militants.

"Our intent is to work with the Turks, alongside one another, to take Raqqa down, and we're going to sort it out and we'll figure out how we're going to do it", Mattis said.

The U.S. officials who disclosed the Trump administration decision weren't authorized to publicly discuss the matter and demanded anonymity.

Officials from the Turkish embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Times regarding the YPG arms deal. United States officials have championed the fight there as a key part of the operation to retake Raqqa and an example of the group's prowess.

As many as 1,000 USA troops are working alongside the SDF inside Syria.

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The 48-year-old female presidential contender succeeded her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2011 to head the NF party. He also shot down the plans of this far-right opponent - Marine Le Pen - to re-establish French borders.

Tensions escalated last month when Turkey conducted airstrikes on Kurdish bases in Syria and Iraq.

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