Turkish official: US arming Kurds 'unacceptable'

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli earlier criticized the United States announcement to arm the YPG as a mere continuation of Obama's strategy.

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

Speaking in Lithuania, where he was touring a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation training site on Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters that the U.S. has had very open discussions with Turkey over its concerns.

While the Kurdish-led SDF has been the USA -led coalition's most effective battlefield partner against ISIS in northern and eastern Syria, Turkey views the Kurds as terrorists and opposes including them in the Raqqa operation.

Canikli said Turkey would take the diplomatic initiative to convince Washington "to do what friendship requires".

Turkey has said it is keen to join the battle to recapture Raqa but on condition the offensive does not include the YPG Last month, Erdogan said if Turkey and the United States joined forces, they could turn Raqa into a "graveyard" for jihadists. The Wall Street Journal reported the effort could end up doubling the capacity of an intelligence sharing center in Ankara. The official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the issue publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the USA has yet to provide the weapons.

"Every single one" of the weapons will be accounted for, and the US will "assure they are pointed at ISIS", Dorrian said, using an alternate acronym for IS. The official limit on USA troops has remained at 503 since shortly before Obama left office, but US commanders this year have added hundreds of troops, including a Marine artillery unit, on what they call a temporary basis, raising the total to about 900. "We do not ever give weapons to the PKK".

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


"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.

"It's not always tidy, but we work out the issues", he added.

In March, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Turkey to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who sees the YPG as terrorists.

The U.S. on Tuesday announced that U.S. President Donald Trump authorised the Department of Defense to provide small arms, machine guns, ammunition, armoured vehicles and other equipment to the Syrian Kurds.

"The previous administration bent over backwards to undermine the solid foundation of our relations", Lavrov told reporters at the Russian Embassy after meeting Trump. They said the US would not provide artillery or surface-to-air missiles.

A spokesman for the USA -led coalition against IS, Col. John Dorrian, said Wednesday that the weapons would be delivered to the Kurds soon. Lavrov called it a USA decision, echoing Putin, who said Russian Federation had nothing to do with Comey's dismissal.

The Turks have insisted that the Syrian Kurds be excluded from that operation, but U.S. officials insisted there was no real alternative.

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