(REUTERS) Despite fierce opposition from NATO ally Turkey, U.S. President Donald Trump has approved supplying arms to Kurdish YPG fighters to support an operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

Ankara views the Kurdish YPG militia fighting within a larger U.S.-backed coalition as the Syrian extension of the Kurdish PKK militant group, which has fought an insurgency in Turkey’s southeast since 1984.

There was no immediate reaction from Turkey, whose president, Tayyip Erdogan, is expected to meet Trump later this month.

The Pentagon immediately sought to stress that it saw arming the Kurdish forces “as necessary to ensure a clear victory” in Raqqa, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria and a hub for planning the group’s attacks against the West.

“We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement as she traveled in Lithuania with Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis.

“We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the U.S. is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally.”

The United States has long supplied arms to the Arab components of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, which include YPG fighters. White said Washington would still prioritize supplying those Arab fighters within the SDF.

One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the equipment could include small arms, ammunition, machine guns, armored vehicles and engineering equipment.

The U.S. alliance with Turkey has proven decisive in the battle against Islamic State in Syria, providing the coalition with access to Turkey’s Incirlik air base to wage strikes against the militants, officials say.

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Mattis, speaking before the announcement, sounded upbeat about working through tensions with Ankara when he spoke to reporters in Denmark after talks with coalition officials, including from Turkey.

“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 told a news conference in Copenhagen.

Ankara had long argued that Washington should switch support for the planned assault on Raqqa from the Kurdish YPG militia to Syrian rebels Turkey has trained and led against Islamic State for the past year.

But the U.S. administration was skeptical that the Turkish-backed force was large enough or sufficiently trained.

White appeared to allude to that conclusion when she said: “The SDF, partnered with enabling support from U.S. and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future.”

Saleh Muslim, co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish PYD party, the YPG’s political affiliate, said the U.S. decision was expected.

“The Raqqa campaign is running in parallel with the international coalition against terrorism. It’s natural that they would provide weapons” to the SDF and the armed groups fighting as part of it, Muslim said.

In a sign of recent tensions, Turkish warplanes carried out air strikes against Kurdish YPG fighters in northeastern Syria and Iraq’s Sinjar region late last month, killing less than 30 fighters, according to one estimate.

The United States has played down Turkish accusations of links between the YPG and PKK. 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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Mattis acknowledged the war in Syria had not left the United States with easy choices but he voiced confidence that Washington and Ankara would get past the impasse.

“But we will work it out … War sometimes doesn’t give you all good options. That’s the nature of war. It’s not a good situation,” he said.

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Floriangeyer
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Floriangeyer
The US fantasy world is a fascinating insight into the dichotomy of the CIA aiding ISIS and with Turkey whose elite (Erdogan and Family) have gained billions of $ from buying cheap looted ISIS oil, ancient artefacts and human slaves , together with a half hearted assault on ISIS by the US that has been waged for years by the most powerful military the world has ever seen. For example, 16 years fighting the Taliban with NOTHING to show for it except many hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians dead and a low thousands of dispensable US military dead and… Read more »
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Cyriak Papasissis

You forgot the profits from the opium trafficking

Floriangeyer
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Floriangeyer
Yes, there are so many scams the US is involved in rather like the Empires of yesterday 🙂 Its fascinating to read about the UK Opium Wars with China in the 19th century and also the asset stripping of India by the East India Company in India that was a British owned private corporation until it was rescued after bankruptcy by the UK government in its latter years. The bankruptcy was largely due to drought and famine in India that caused unrest BUT by that time vast fortunes had already been made and repatriated ( looted ) to Britain. Nothing… Read more »
Daeshbags Sux
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Daeshbags Sux

Weapons sales is the #1 business on Earth, Florian! All you need is forever wars to make it flourish.
Thus, it’s no fantasy world and US are faaaaar to be the only ones to gather huge profits.
The 2 best assets for weapons sales is the use of 3 countries as boogeymen : Iran, North-Korea and Israel 😆
Turkey’s the 6th arms seller on Earth, BTW 😉

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EE.UU. apenas entrega armas ligeras a SDF, mientras que Erdogan arma a sus mercenarios con tanques, blindados, misiles, etc.

Yonatan
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Yonatan

Israe is desperate for its stooges to destroy the territorial integrity of Syria and break the land link between Iran and Lebanon

Daeshbags Sux
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Daeshbags Sux

Actually, they have no stooges : don’t believe PLO crapaganda : they’re an underdog! Israel’s a pustule on a map with pretty low population and 1 illegal alien for 2 people. They’re only 33th world’s economy wile Turkey’s 18th. Qatar or Bahrain are richer than ’em, you know…

Floriangeyer
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Floriangeyer

@ Daeshbag,
I agree that Israel us ” a pustule on a map “.

One day there will be special antibiotics to eradicate the pustule that has infected Palestine.

Daeshbags Sux
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Daeshbags Sux
Actually, there is NO and never ever had been a state named “Palestine” in history! BTW, you can’t even pronounce “P” in Arab! Palestina is the roman derivative for an Hebrew word, “Peleshet”, this means “Invader”. In other terms, the infection is… “Palestinians” and frankly, with the number of terror attacks PLO and affiliate did into Europe, all we have good reasons to say : ‘Fuck the Palestinians’. BTW, there is an Arab ‘Palestine’, it’s called Kingdom of Jordan. Why all these idiots want to stay in Jewish Palestine? Well, for one reason : create forever shit on the international… Read more »
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It means war between the US and Turkey. A new interpretation of article 5 regarding assistance in case of war between NATO partners. The US is now in reality at war with Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Russia and Iran. The US is arming a group it officially considers a terrorist organisation.

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The US is fixing to bitch-slap Erdogan if he keeps dropping shells and bombs on the Syrian Kurds. Trump can get the USDA to block imports of Turkish agricultural products that are certified as organically grown by Ankara yet lack the required paperwork to prove that those actually are. Turkey has been flooding the US markets with that stuff and making a killing doing so by undercutting US growers. Turkey’s economy has gone downhill since Erdogan became president so the last thing he needs is less state revenue coming while supporting militias inside Syria. Shooting wars are horribly expensive.

Daeshbags Sux
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Daeshbags Sux

Erdolf’s ass is on the line of many.

Floriangeyer
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Floriangeyer

A real conflict between the US and Turkey would be a joy to behold 🙂

Daeshbags Sux
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Daeshbags Sux
War has nothing joyous, it means nothing else than death and destruction. With all the shit Erdolf is doing, there are much more than USA which would have good reasons to go after him and his AKP! EU, China, Russia, KRG, Rojava, most of central-Asia states, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Iran… USA should consider waiting to deliver him his 100 F-35. WHAAAT??? Yes! US can ground ANY F-35 but the Israelis through the ALIS logistics system : if you don’t connect to Lockheed servers previous to ANY flight, you won’t take-off! Only Israelis received the source-codes so only them can… Read more »
Daeshbags Sux
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Daeshbags Sux
SDF is not YPG and YPG is not PKK! And you have bizarre deep state implication while the genuine official USA ain’t so implied. Moreover, the term ‘vetted’ is often very badly understood : If you buy arms from the US, you need the ones you re-sale these to be ‘vetted’ by US, i.e. you can’t re-sale a F-16 to North Korea without US ‘vetting’ acceptance. It doesn’t means US are supplying to the 2nd hand ‘buyer’. The only reason Turkey hasn’t been dropped from NATO is its geographic location. Nobody gives a fuck about them, actually, everybody knows that… Read more »
Pete
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Pete
“The US is now in reality at war with Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Russia and Iran.” LOL. Syria, Iran, Iraq, US, Russia, SDF, YPG, YPJ, PKK all have their guns pointing at the Turkish occupiers. “The US is arming a group it officially considers a terrorist organisation.” – Nobody in the World considers the YPG to be a “terrorist organisation”, not even Turkey. Turkey only began to call them “terrorists” after they defeated ISIS (supported by Turkey) in Kobane. And PKK are only called “terrorists” by Turkey and those trying to appease Turkey. PKK don’t even satisfy the criteria to be… Read more »
Daeshbags Sux
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Daeshbags Sux

Absolutely Pete. +1.
Erdof is not only getting on US nerves. He’s playing with fire with nearly everybody.

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