Official says WH has approved weapons for Kurds

Australia continues commitment to counter Daesh

Australia continues commitment to counter Daesh

US military officials have argued that Kurdish forces are needed in the effort to retake Raqqa, the self-declared capital of Islamic State.

Turkey was informed of Mr. Trump's decision, according to an American official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing private diplomatic communications...

The Kurdish contingent being equipped has "partnered with enabling support from USA and coalition forces, [and] are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future", the statement adds.

US forces have joined Kurdish forces in northern Syria along the Turkish border, in part as a signal of support and a warning to Turkey, who has conducted airstrikes and land operations against Kurdish expansion in the region. She said Mattis spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Fikri Isik, by telephone to reiterate a USA commitment to "protecting our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally".

But whether the Kurds will lead the assault on the city and whether to arm them have been points of contention between the USA and Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

"We were troubled by that", Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said of Turkey's failure to give adequate warning of airstrikes in the Hasaka area.

Mattis called Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik on Tuesday, the Pentagon said. They said the USA would not provide artillery or surface-to-air missiles.

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Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon also had a closed meeting with Turkish presidential adviser Ibrahim Kalin Tuesday at the State Department.

But critics say the additional strikes have accelerated the rate of civilian deaths.

"We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey", she said. The intent is to restrict the distribution and use of the weaponry by permitting its use for specific battlefield missions and then requiring the Kurds to return it to USA control.

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.

"There have been bad episodes in the relationship between the United States and Turkey, but this one is serious because it gets to the heart of Turkish security priorities", said Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "We'll figure out how we're going to do it".

The Turkish government considers the YPG to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, known by the acronym PKK, that has conducted terrorist attacks inside Turkey. The Turkish military said it killed at least 90 fighters and wounded scores.

The instability has concerned Washington, which fears it will slow the effort to retake Raqqa.

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