US upbeat after Turkey talks on Syria, Mattis: 'We'll work it out'

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

President Trump has approved a plan to directly arm Kurdish forces fighting in Syria as part of a USA military plan to capture Raqqa, the Syrian city that is the Islamic State's defacto capital, US officials said on Tuesday.

But she called the Syrian Democratic Forces "the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future", an indirect pushback on Turkish proposals that the U.S. abandon its support of the YPG and instead rely on other Turkish-backed rebels for the crucial mission.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to visit President Donald Trump in Washington next week.

The U.S. support for the SDF has been a major strain on relations between Washington and Ankara. US-backed fighters have captured 80 percent of Syria's Tabqa from the Islamic State group, a monitor said on May 1, a week after they first entered the town.

Ankara sees the Kurdish fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces - known as the YPG - as closely linked to the PKK, an internationally designated terror group that has carried out attacks against Turkey.


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.

The U.S. military has based dozens of jets and other aircraft at a Turkish airbase near the border with Syria to conduct airstrikes against ISIS.

Even with the extra USA weaponry, the Kurds and their Syrian Arab partners are expected to face a hard and perhaps lengthy fight for control of Raqqa, which has been key to the extremists' state-building project.

"We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey", said White in the statement.

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.

"We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the U.S. is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally".


Mattis told AFP that the United States and Turkey will work together as operations continue to retake Daesh's Syria bastion Raqqa.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called his Turkish counterpart, Fikri Işık, to discuss the issue while visiting Denmark for an anti-ISIS coalition meeting with allies.

The decision to arm the Kurds was announced just hours after US Defence Minister James Mattis met with a Turkish official in Denmark at an anti-ISIL coalition summit.

"But we will work it out ..."

"We're going to sort it out", he replied. War sometimes doesn't give you all good options.

President Trump has authorized the Defense Department to equip Kurdish fighters in Syria, according to a statement from the Pentagon. "It's not a good situation", he said.



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