Syrian Kurdish forces say they will push on to IS capital

The weapons are meant to bolster the Kurdish fighters as they set out to dislodge the caliphate from its "capital" of.

The SDF have also captured a major airbase near Tabqa, some 50 km (30 miles) west of Raqqa, in the latest phase of their operation against IS.

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said on Thursday that the United States will continue extensive dialogue with Turkey despite disagreements just after the decision became public that the US would arm the Syrian Kurds.

Erdogan also called on the United States to stand alongside a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally — Turkey — and reverse its decision on arming Syrian Kurds before his upcoming visit to Washington.

The Syrian Kurds have been encircling Raqqa, preparing for the launch of what the US military predicts will be a long and hard battle to retake the city. "We wouldn't even know where the shelling was coming from", the mother of five said.

He spoke during a joint news conference with the visiting president of Sierra Leone.

Erdogan is due to meet with President Donald Trump during a visit to Washington next week.

Kawa Azizi, a political science professor at Salahaddin University in Iraq's Kurdish region, said that by sending arms, the U.S.is expecting a rapid defeat of IS.

Turkish main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) criticized on Wednesday the US decision, urging President Erdogan to cancel his upcoming visit to the U.S.

The Pentagon said Isis had been using the dam as a "key coordination hub" after territorial losses in northern Syria saw the group move its foreign fighters and external attack planning to Tabqa in an effort to divert air strikes.

"We support Turkey in its fight against PKK", he said.


The statement, circulated on social media on Wednesday, warns other factions against taking advantage of the respite in fighting to launch attacks against it in Idlib province.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Wednesday, "You can not destroy a terrorist organization using another terrorist organization". "Every weapon seized by them is a threat to Turkey".

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

Yildirim said "there is still an opportunity for the United States to take Turkey's sensitivities into consideration". Otherwise, the outcome won't only affect Turkey. He also said that once it starts it will not be publicly acknowledged by the U.S. Mattis said he had no doubt the two countries could work through the tensions caused by the decision to arm the YPG. "And Turkey is committed to that campaign", he said. It says the decision is a refutation of the "distortions" likening the YPG to a terror organization.

The YPG is the armed wing of the PYD, a Syrian affiliate of the PKK, a Turkish, US and EU-listed terrorist group which has been fighting an on-and-off war with the Turkish state since 1984.

"We will work very closely with Turkey in support of their security on their southern border", he added.

Mattis said Washington would not give weapons to the PKK. In a report published Thursday, the Turkish state-run Anadolu News Agency describes the PKK as an "umbrella organization" that "franchises" itself to regional affiliates, making global support of their subgroups more palatable. Why Kurdish forces? Because Syrian Kurds have the best track record for retaking territory from Islamic State.

YPG video footage on Thursday showed half a dozen fighters and youths dancing in Tabqa, and children calling out excitedly: "The dam has been liberated". Daesh is the Arabic acronym for IS.

Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White agreed with the widespread view that Kurdish and other forces within the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) were the sole option for defeating ISIS at this moment.

The announcement is a snub to Turkey, which doesn't want the Syrian Kurdish-led force to take the city, offering its own troops instead. "It is conducting an active insurgency in Turkey". Turkey has continually asserted, not unreasonably, that Kurdish forces within SDF have connections to the Kurdistan Workers Party, known as the PKK.


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