Trump backs equipping of SDFs Kurdish elements in ISIS fight

Jay Jacobs
May 10, 2017

Tillerson told CBS News' "Face The Nation" last month, after the US released an air strike against a Syrian air base in response to a chemical weapons attack, that the USA will focus on ISIS first before addressing the other problems of war-ravaged Syria.

Later, Mr. Cevik attempted to walk back his comments on social media regarding US forces working with Kurdish militias.

The plan to take Raqqa from ISIS with Kurdish forces is actually a tactic from the Obama administration playbook.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to visit President Donald Trump in Washington next week. Mr. Erdogan has routinely lambasted the White House for its battlefield support of Kurdish groups such as Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG.

The United States has not yet disclosed a decision on whether it will arm YPG fighters to take Raqqa, IS' de facto capital, and Jim Mattis declined to answer that question after talks with USA allies in Denmark.

The decision to arm the Kurds was announced just hours after Pentagon chief Jim Mattis met with a Turkish official in Denmark at an anti-IS coalition summit.

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The equipment provided is set to include small arms, machine guns, construction equipment and armored vehicles, a U.S. official told CNN.

And in Denmark earlier Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he had useful discussions with Turkey and described the two countries as working out differences over a USA alliance with Syrian Kurds in fighting Islamic State militants. "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", White said. Erdogan has said that he will now send his troops, and Syrian rebels fighting with them, to Raqqa, eliminating the need for the United States to depend on Kurdish forces.

In Denmark, Mattis was asked about the way forward with Turkey over the Raqqa issue. "We're going to sort it out, we'll figure out how to do it, but we're all committed to it". "That's not to say we all walk into the room with same appreciation of the problem".

The announcement comes after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Turkish officials last week in Ankara, Turkey, and discussed possible strategies for defeating ISIS in Syria. In the latest airstrikes, on Tuesday, Turkey said that it had destroyed "PKK terrorist camps" in northern Iraq, according to Turkey's semi-official Anadolu News Agency. The arms, ammunition and vehicles will be delivered in an incremental fashion.

Turkey is also a key member of the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition fighting ISIS forces.

As many as 1,000 USA troops are working alongside the SDF inside Syria.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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