Published: Fri, June 23, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Turkey warns on Syrian Kurdish militia, welcomes US weapons pledge

Turkey warns on Syrian Kurdish militia, welcomes US weapons pledge

Weapons delivered to the PKK/PYD terrorist group will be taken back after Daesh is defeated, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a letter sent to his Turkish counterpart on Thursday.

The United States sees the YPG as an essential ally in the campaign to defeat Islamic State in Raqqa, the jihadists' main urban base in Syria.

Turkey considers the YPG to be the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organisation, which has waged war against the Turkish state since 1984, and has said that it would retaliate against the YPG if it felt threatened by the group.

Although both Turkey and the USA consider the PKK a terrorist group, the United States claims the YPG has no connection with the PKK.

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"Any move by the YPG toward Turkey will be answered immediately", the minister said.

The YPG is a leading part of the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which launched an operation earlier this month to capture Raqqa, Islamic State's de facto Syrian capital. "We will implement steps that will completely secure the border", he added.

The fight for Raqqa began two weeks ago, putting pressure on Islamic State, which also faces defeat in its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Turkish forces had crossed the border in the last 24 hours and headed towards areas south of Azaz town, which is held by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.

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A Syrian war monitor and Kurdish sources said on Wednesday that Turkey had sent military reinforcements including troops, vehicles and equipment into an area of northern Syria where it has been fighting Islamic State and YPG forces.

To Azaz's south are areas controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey has fought in northern Syria.

The group also reported that preparations are being made by Turkish-backed rebels in both the western and northern sides of Aleppo to launch simultaneous attacks on the SDF positions.

Turkey launched an offensive in northern Syria in August past year, sending tanks and warplanes across the border to support Syrian rebels fighting both Islamic State and the YPG.

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