Trump OKs arms for Syrian Kurds, despite Turkish objections

Trump OKs arms for Syrian Kurds, despite Turkish objections

Trump OKs arms for Syrian Kurds, despite Turkish objections

In a major policy shift, the Pentagon announced Tuesday it would directly arm Syrian Kurdish fighters for the first time to help expedite the capture of the so-called ISIS capital of Raqqa - against the wishes of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, which considers the group terrorists.

Turkey views those Kurdish fighters in Syria as terrorists, or as allied with terrorists, due to their connection to the Kurdish PKK militant group, which wants to carve out its own independent state within Turkey.

"We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey", Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, who is traveling with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Lithuania, said in a statement.

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 USA ally fighting ISIS.

Senior U.S. officials including Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have met repeatedly with Turkish officials to try to work out an arrangement for the Raqqa assault that would be acceptable to Ankara.

In Denmark, Mattis was asked about the way forward with Turkey over the Raqqa issue.

The United States plans to directly arm the Syrian Kurdish military, a Trump administration policy opposed by its Turkish NATO ally, officials said Tuesday.

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The sources said the Turks would be notified about the decision soon. "At some point you've got to make a decision".

The White House decision comes as Turkey ramps up its military operations against PKK and YPG fighters in Iraq and Syria. "Turkish security relationship that is pretty serious", Aliriza said. Despite fierce opposition from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, the White House will support an operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State.

But the US administration was skeptical that the Turkish-backed force was large enough or sufficiently trained. The move also reinforces the idea that the entire Syrian Democratic Force, Syrian Kurds (YPG) and the Syrian Arab Coalition, has the backing of the U.S.The order has been signed and that "allows the process to begin to function", one official said.

"The Raqqa campaign is running in parallel with the worldwide coalition against terrorism". They said the United States would not provide artillery or surface-to-air missiles.

Officials from the Turkish embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Times regarding the YPG arms deal.

When asked whether the new arms deal with the YPG could put US forces in danger from Turkish airstrikes, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Ankara believes the YPG's advances will fuel anti-Kurdish sentiment in predominantly Arab parts of Syria such as Raqqa, and threaten Syria's territorial integrity.

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