U.S. to arm Syrian Kurds fighting ISIS despite Turkish opposition

Australia continues commitment to counter Daesh

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

Two officials told NBC News that President Donald Trump has signed the order for the United States to provide the Syrian Kurds with arms and equipment.

"The United States condemns the Assad regimes use of brutal violence and human rights abuses and calls on the Assad regime to stop its violence against the Syrian people, uphold the Cessation of Hostilities, enable the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and allow a political transition in Syria that will forge a credible path to a future of greater freedom, democracy, opportunity, and justice", said the US President. The PYD is closely affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is a left-wing group considered a terrorist organization by both Turkey and the U.S. The PYD and PKK have the common desire to create an independent Kurdish state.

Erdogan is expected to travel to Washington to meet with Trump next week in what will be their first face-to-face meeting since Trump took office.

Mattis met with counterparts in Copenhagen Tuesday as part of a conference focused on the ISIS fight, also attended by the Turkish minister of defense. The issue has come to a head now because battlefield progress this year has put the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces almost in position attack IS in Raqqa, although they are still attempting to isolate the city.

The decision to arm the Syrian Kurds will likely cast a shadow over Erdogan's visit to Washington, policy experts said. The official has no confirmed or disclosed just how soon arms would start being delievered to Kurdish fighters.


It was not immediately clear whether the decision by Trump means the YPG will receive heavier weapons, including anti-tank missiles and armored vehicles.

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

The Pentagon sought to assure Turkey that the decision to arm the YPG would not translate into US support for a Kurdish enclave in Syria. White said Washington would still prioritize supplying those Arab fighters within the SDF. They said the USA would not provide artillery or surface-to-air missiles.

"The YPG is an arm of the PKK".

Ankara has insisted that the Syrian Kurds be excluded from that operation, but United States officials said there was no real alternative. "We're going to sort it out, we'll figure out how to do it, but we're all committed to it".

Tensions escalated last month when Turkey conducted airstrikes on Kurdish bases in Syria and Iraq.

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