Turkey says US arming Syrian Kurdish militia 'extremely dangerous'
- Author: Adam Floyd Jun 02, 2017,
Jun 02, 2017, 1:49
"Weapons have arrived", Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway told Fox News.
The YPG - the military wing of the Syrian People's Democratic Unit (PYD) - is widely considered to be the most effective militia against ISIS on the ground in Syria and cooperates with both the United States and Russian Federation.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has described U.S. weapon shipments to Kurds in Syria fighting to liberate ISIS's de facto capital of Raqqa as "extremely dangerous" and cited the impossibility of a "temporary partner".
The arming of Kurdish militants with anti-tank rockets is a sensitive topic because of Turkey's reliance on its armored Leopard tanks in its fight against ISIS in northern Syria, and its struggle against the Kurdish factions it views to be terrorist groups.
Finally, after years of risky dawdling the United States has actually begun arming Kurdish soldiers fighting ISIS in Syria.
Turkey's concerns about the YPG were significant enough for Ankara to launch its own military operation inside Syria in August 2016, dubbed Euphrates Shield. "The SDF, partnered with enabling support from US and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future", Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said in a statement at the time.More news: Iran ready for talks 'toward peace' with Arab states
Those concerns likely stem from Ankara's disapproval of US plans to equip members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG - a group Turkey insists is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Worker's Party, an internationally designated terrorist group. Ankara says the YPG is linked to Kurdistan Workers' Party separatists, who have waged an insurgency since 1984, killing more than 40,000 people inside Turkey.
Washington believes that YPG fighters are the only force now qualified to recapture Raqqa from ISIS.
"The weapons given to the terrorist organization can be used against all humanity", Cavusoglu cautioned.
The US-backed group has now advanced to within a few miles of the ISIL stronghold on several fronts, and this month captured the strategic town of Tabqa and the adjacent dam.
Talal Silo, the military spokesman of the SDF, was cited by Kurdish media outlets on Thursday as saying that "We will confront any attempt by the Hashd al-Shaabi to enter areas under our control, and we will not allow any force to enter our areas".
Turkey considers the Kurdish forces to be "terrorists" and fears any weapons sent to the YPG could end up in the hands of the PKK.