Pentagon chief, Turkish PM meet after decision to arm Kurds

Turkey has urged the United States to reverse a decision to arm Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State in Syria.

Weapons supplied to the YPG have in the past fallen into PKK hands, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

"I hope very much that this mistake will be reversed immediately", Erdogan said, after Washington announced it would arm the Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) in the fight against militants in Syria.

Tabqa, a strategic town for ISIS in Syria, has been retaken by US -backed Syrian Kurdish forces, giving allies a new route to the militant stronghold of Raqqa.

Ankara says the Kurdish militia, which forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, is an extension of the Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK, which has been waging a decades-old insurgency in Turkey and is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the USA and other Western countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday called on the country's allies to "side with Ankara and not with terrorist organisations".

Mattis expressed optimism that Washington and Ankara would work through tensions after a half-hour discussion with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in London, which he described as "honest, transparent and helpful".




John Dorrian - the spokesman for the US-led coalition against ISIS called Operation Inherent Resolve - earlier tweeted that nearly all of the city has been seized and that fighters were clearing two neighborhoods. They said the US would not provide artillery or surface-to-air missiles.

Washington is trying to provide Turkey assurances.

"The Syrian Kurdish YPG forces have been the most effective against ISIS on the ground in Syria, so this would seem like a good effort to strengthen the group".

"I have no doubt that Turkey and the United States will work this out with due considerations, significant attention paid to Turkey's security", he said.

Turkish media said the three met McMaster at the White House on Monday but gave no details over the content of the talks. "We don t believe America would choose a terror group over our strategic relations", he said. The arming of the YPG that has always been under consideration at the Pentagon but has been delayed due to strong opposition from Turkey.

The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the U.S., Turkey and the European Union. "The argument that a ground operation in the fight against Daesh (IS) would be successful only with YPG has nothing to do with reality", he said. It was the first time the US has attacked Syrian forces in the six-year civil war.

Erdogan is expected to travel to Washington D.C.to meet with the president next week-their first face-to-face meeting since Trump took office-and one in which divisions over United States support for the Syrian Kurdish militia are likely to be a point of contention.

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