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US President Trump, Turkey's Erdogan pledge to defeat ISIL

17 Mai 2017

Erdogan declared that USA reliance on these Kurdish groups "will never be accepted" and goes against "past agreements", while standing next to Trump.

The two leaders met amid strong disagreements between the US and Turkey regarding Washington's support for the YPG as Turkey views the group as the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist PKK organization. "Today we face a new enemy in the fight against terrorism, and again, we seek to face this threat together".

Tensions rose after Washington said it planned to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters belonging to the People's Protection Units (YPG), a group that Washington has backed in the fight against the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) but which Ankara considers a terrorist group.

The US has decided that the YPG is the key to fighting against ISIS, and has picked them to conquer the ISIS capital of Raqqa. They will also likely focus on a Turkish request for the extradition of a US -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Turkey blames for last summer's failed coup.

The Turkish government has also raised concerns about a USA criminal case against Reza Zarrab, a dual Turkish-Iranian national, arrested past year and charged with helping Iran process millions of dollar in transactions that violated US sanctions against Tehran. "He's going to want USA support for a Turkish operation against Sinjar". But the USA insists that the YPG is a separate group, despite evidence Turkey has presented to the contrary. The U.S. sees the Syrian Kurds as their best battlefield partner on the ground in northern Syria.

Mr. Trump was asked by reporters following the statement about his alleged disclosure of classified information during his meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, a meeting he on Tuesday called "very, very successful". Turkey has attacked YPG targets in recent weeks, and the USA has deployed troops to the Syria-Turkey border to try to prevent further escalation of that fighting.

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Democrats immediately pounced on The Times' report and called on their GOP colleagues to push for the truth from the White House. The newspaper said Comey was in the Oval Office that day with other national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing.

US military officials have long argued in favor of supporting the Kurds in Syria against ISIS because they are such competent soldiers. Trump, however, made no mention of the YPG, or People's Protection Units, and gave no sign that the US intends to change course from a plan to arm the group for the assault on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. "The U.S. would have to make sure that he would get a fair trial back in Turkey".

The protest on Tuesday took place outside the ambassador's residence.

While it remained unknow whether Trump would change course on arming Syrian Kurds, recent response from the US State Department and the Pentagon indicated that a consensus had been reached across the Trump administration to arm Syrian Kurds in the fight against the IS. But the president hasn't outlined a strategy to quell the six-year civil war or usher Assad out of power, which his administration says will be needed to stabilize the Arab country.

Trump has gone out of his way to foster a good relationship with Erdogan.

Erdogan criticized the move before leaving Turkey, but in a more measured tone than his administration took last week when the news originally came out.