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United States defense chief affirms commitment to protecting Turkey

13 Mai 2017

Turkey is concerned the weapons provided by the us could one day fall into the wrong hands.

"We support Turkey in its fight against PKK", he said. "They only have different names", Cavusoglu said in televised comments during an official visit to Montenegro.

In the half-hour meeting, Mattis "reiterated USA commitment to protecting our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally" and "both leaders affirmed their support for peace and stability in both Iraq and Syria", Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement.

Erdogan further emphasized that he would mention the issue in upcoming discussions with Trump when the two are scheduled to meet in Washington on May 16 in their first formal encounter as heads of state.

The U.N. has warned damage to the Tabqa dam - Syria's largest - could lead to massive flooding, and a source who works with the dam's technicians said they had fled the structure as fighting drew near in recent days.

Turkey's deputy Prime Minister denounced the decision as "unacceptable" and said it "amounts to support to a terror organization".

A spokesman for the US -led coalition against IS, Col. John Dorrian, said Wednesday that the weapons would be delivered to the Kurds soon.

A senior USA official says the Trump administration has approved providing heavier weapons to Syria's Kurds as they move closer to the key Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has reaffirmed the US commitment to protecting Turkey at a meeting with the Turkish prime minister in London.

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Turkey views the Kurdish YPG forces as the Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984 and is considered a terrorist group by the United States, Turkey and Europe.

Turkey yesterday urged the United States to reverse a decision to arm Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Syria, saying that every weapon supplied to the People's Protection Units (YPG) constituted "a threat to Turkey".

Next week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is visiting Trump at the White House.

Turkey, the US and other Western allies view the PKK as a terrorist group.

ISIL captured Raqqa in January 2014, and took a nearby airbase from the Syrian government in August the same year.

The news about the USA plan to arm Syrian Kurds comes, as the Trump administration mulls sending as many as 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan, a military official told NBC News, and as the White House makes moves it believe will help American forces "start winning" again in the region. Turkey views both as the Syrian affiliates of the terrorist PKK, which has fought a 33-year war against Turkey and is also listed as a terror organization by the USA and EU.

The move has infuriated North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Ankara.

Ilham Ahmed, a top official in the Syrian Democratic Forces' political office, tells The Associated Press Wednesday the decision means the SDF is the force designated to recapture Raqqa.