United States decision to arm Syrian Kurds threatens Turkey: foreign minister

Dorrian also noted that the largest number of Daesh had relocated to Raqqa, the group's de facto capital, but a large number of foreign fighters were barricaded at the Tabqa Dam.

The fall of Tabqa leaves no other major urban settlements on the road to Raqqa, about 40 kilometers, or 25 miles, away.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey says the USA decision to arm Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria is "unacceptable", warning that such a policy "will benefit nobody".

"The United States and Turkey are two major partners in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".

The Kurdish YPG militia meanwhile welcomed the USA decision to arm its forces in the battle against Islamic State in Syria, saying this would be a significant boost in the war against terrorism.

Speaking on May 10 at a news conference in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey can not accept "direct or indirect" support for the Kurdish fighters and called on Washington to take Ankara's sensitivities into consideration.

In a joint press conference with Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, Erdogan said: "Every development in Syria and Iraq is a matter of national security for us [Turkey]".

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. On Wednesday, Erdogan said "I hope very much that this mistake will be reversed immediately".

Ankara has argued that Washington should switch support for the Raqqa assault from the YPG to Syrian rebels that Turkey has trained and led against ISIS for the past year - despite Washington's scepticism about their military capability.

The city, located in northern Syria, is surrounded by opposition forces fighting IS militants and government forces.

The SDF was founded in Syria's mainly Kurdish northeastern region in October 2015 and is made up of at least 15 armed factions, mostly fighters from the YPG and the Free Syrian Army.

"ISIS threatens them, as has the PKK, which the US has recognized as a terrorist organization for right about 20 years now", he said.

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But the YPG has emerged as a valuable partner for the United States in the fight against Islamic State in northern Syria.

"Any initiative to support the PKK directly or indirectly is unacceptable for us", Binali Yildirim told reporters at Ankara Esenboga International Airport before leaving for an official visit to Britain.

The White House has already given the Pentagon the green light to deliver weapons to the Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), a group of Kurdish fighters battling IS extremists.

The YPG militia says the decision is "historic" and a "sign of confidence" in the group, in a statement released Wednesday.

"The fact that the U.S. is handing over arms to the YPG, which even they have recognised is a terror group, does not change reality, this can not be accepted", deputy PM Nurettin Canikli told Turkish television.

Meanwhile, Air strikes killed at least 11 people, including four children, in a village north of Raqqa overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The YPG said Washington's decision would bring swift results and help the militia "play a stronger, more influential and more decisive role in combating terrorism".

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.

In a surprise announcement, the Pentagon said Trump had authorised the arming of Kurdish fighters within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) "to ensure a clear victory over ISIS in Raqa".

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the weapons supplied by the United States to Kurdish forces will eventually fall into the hands of PKK militants.

The YPG said the USA s "historic" decision to begin providing it with weapons and other equipment would speed up its assault on IS positions.

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