Turkish PM objects to US arming of Syrian Kurds

Turkish PM objects to US arming of Syrian Kurds

The battle for Tabqa began after US forces helped SDF fighters conduct an airborne landing on the southern bank of the Euphrates in late March, allowing them to gain control of an important nearby airbase.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Wednesday that a USA decision to arm the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia fighting Islamic State in Syria would have consequences and a "negative result" for Washington.

She said the decision is likely to be met with "aggression" from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is to visit Washington next week.

President Donald Trump has authorized the Department of Defense to supply arms directly to Kurdish forces in their advance on the so-called Islamic State's (ISIS) territory in Raqqa, according to the BBC.

He spoke during a joint news conference with the visiting president of Sierra Leone. Once Raqqa is taken from ISIS, it the US plan is to turn it over to the governance of local Syrian Arabs.

The United States sees the YPG as a valuable partner in the fight against Islamic State militants in northern Syria, and says that arming the Kurdish forces is necessary to retaking the city of Raqqa, Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria and a hub for planning attacks against the West. Turkey has repeatedly called on the U.S.to end its ties to the PKK/PYD and offered to help take Raqqah.

Fikri Isik also told private NTV television on Wednesday that Turkey has the power to defend its national interests in Syria, though he did not elaborate.

The US decision has however angered Turkey, which views the YPG as a "terrorist" group because of its ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK). The spokesman for the USA -led coalition against IS, Col. John Dorrian, said US troops were about 6 miles from the strikes and put American forces at risk.

"The Trump administration providing arms to a terrorist organisation - either directly or indirectly through the YPG - does not change the fact that this amounts to support to a terror organisation", Mr Canikli said.

"Otherwise, the outcome won't only affect Turkey, a negative outcome will also emerge for the United States", he said. Furthermore, the Syrian government has warned against cross-border movement of Jordanian forces, Reuters reports.

The YPG militia said the decision is "historic" and a "sign of confidence" in the group, in a statement released on Wednesday.

Until Tuesday, official USA policy was to supply weapons only to the Arab components of the SDF - never to its Kurds.

Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said the United States should review its decision.

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

Ozsoy expressed HDP stance that Turkey should change this perception of Syrian Kurds as threat for the national security which was the reason of disagreement with the USA decision on providing arms to YPG.

But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu slammed the move, saying "every weapon that reaches their hands is a threat toward Turkey", and that Turkey's president would raise the issue during a visit to Washington planned for next week. In her second statement she emphasized US solidarity with Turkey and said the USA does not envision a long-term Kurdish presence in Raqqa.

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