Coalition forces nearing ISIS's last bastion in Syria

A member of the YPG uses a radio in a village close to the frontline in Tal Samin Syria during the operation to isolate Raqqa in November 2016
Syrian Kurdish forces to push on IS capital this summer
Author

13 May, 2017

Concerns were raised earlier this year that the dam could be damaged in the fighting or degraded by lack of maintenance, or that the extremists might sabotage it to flood the surrounding areas.

The rebuke came a week before President Tayyip Erdogan is due in Washington for his first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, who approved the arms supply to support a campaign to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State. Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Marxist terrorist group seeking to establish an independent Kurdistan.

The defense secretary, speaking to reporters aboard a USA military airplane after the meeting in London, characterized the discussions as "honest, transparent and helpful".

US Central Command hailed the area's "liberation", but conceded its allies held negotiations with Isis militants in order for "force their surrender". And American officials have stressed that the US will try to ensure that the arms supplied to Kurdish fighters aren't smuggled out for separatist attacks on Turkish interests.

Turkey is deeply opposed to the arms agreement and has called for its reversal.

Turkey's prime minister said Wednesday the US can't use one terrorist group to fight another.

The Pentagon and State Department will need to work fast to get Turkey to, if not support the decision to arm the Kurds, at least acquiesce to it.

The U.S.is reluctant to say the least on extraditing this influential individual who has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999 and denies any involvement in the failed plot. The Wall Street Journal reported the effort could end up doubling the capacity of an intelligence sharing centre in Turkey's capital Ankara. Like Turkey, the USA considers that group a terrorist organization. "We never have and never will", Mr. Mattis added, noting the White House "agree [s] 100 percent with Turkey's concern about PKK".

"We do not ever give weapons to the PKK, we never have and never will".

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"Among the information we have received, there is some that satisfy us and others that are not sufficient", he said.

Turkish media are quoting Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli as saying the US decision to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters viewed as terrorists by Turkey is "unacceptable". "Otherwise, the outcome won't only affect Turkey, a negative outcome will also emerge for the United States". But the United States is convinced they are the most effective local fighting force against IS.

Turkey warned the United States on Wednesday that a decision to arm Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State in Syria could end up hurting Washington, and accused its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally of siding with terrorists.

Last Wednesday, Ilnur Cevik, a senior aide to President Erdogan, said American forces teamed up with members YPG, could be in danger of being hit by Turkish fighters patrolling the volatile border region with Syria.

Arming the Kurds is the right tack for Trump to take, a decision that for months we have been urging both Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, to make.

A United States defence official said earlier this week that the equipment would include small arms, ammunition, machine guns, armoured vehicles and bulldozers.

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

The joint Arab-Kurdish forces have received significant support from the US-led coalition in the form of air strikes and special forces advisers.


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