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U.S. reaffirms its commitment to protect Turkey

12 May 2017 [16:18] - TODAY.AZ

By Azernews

By Kamila Aliyeva

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis reiterated its pledge to protect Turkey, as the country opposes a recent U.S. decision to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters in an attempt to oust Islamic State militants from Raqqa during the meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in London, where a conference on Somalia held.

The talks lasted for about half an hour and became the highest level contacts between the two countries since Washington announced its plans to provide arms to the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds, also known as the YPG.

Earlier, the Pentagon announced that President Donald Trump had approved the transfer of weapons to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) dominated by the YPG. The YPG is the Syrian wing of the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and EU.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has demanded the U.S. to refrain from arming terrorists, is scheduled to visit Washington on May 16.

Erdogan has said he would discuss the issue with U.S. President Donald Trump when they meet, adding the same issue would also be brought up at the NATO summit to be held in Brussels on May 25.

Turkey considers that this decision will threaten the country’s national security.

Growing U.S. support for the YPG is a major collision point which negatively affects the traditionally strong U.S.-Turkish relationship.

Turkey has offered to work directly with the U.S. and the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition to remove IS from Raqqa in Syria, but only if the U.S. stops working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is mainly comprised of YPG fighters.


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