Erdogan sees 'new beginning' in Turkish-US ties

Carla Harmon
May 15, 2017

The decision gives the Pentagon clearance to arm the entire Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, a US -backed coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters dominated by the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), making gains against ISIS in northern Syria. Sandbag fortifications left behind by Islamic State fighters lined the roadside in Tabqa city.Some 25,000 people had been displaced from Tabqa during fighting in recent weeks, staying in informal settlements south of the city, a United Nations refugee agency official in Syria, Roupen Alexandrian, said.

Commanders of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the impending offensive in Tabqa, which the alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters captured from ISIL on Wednesday along with the nearby dam.

Redur Khalil, the spokesman for the Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, on Thursday called on Turkey to let go of its "unjustified" fears of the group, which is battling Islamic State militants with the help of USA -led airstrikes.

But Erdogan may not be amenable to accepting the USA military support for the Kurds in a quid pro quo.

But Washington backs the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the YPG makes up roughly half, and which has been effective in fighting the IS group.

But as soon as they left the city, USA aircraft tracked and killed several of them, officials said.

"They can solve their problems in their country", Abdelqader said of Turkey.

The SDF is fighting not just ISIS, but also the barbarous Assad regime.

So a slap on the back and a souvenir White House paperweight aren't going ease the fact that last week the president approved a Pentagon plan to help arm Kurdish fighters in Syria. Ankara said the plan was "unacceptable" and a threat to its national security.

There is plenty of evidence that the YPG has many fighters from the Turkish PKK and other Kurdish factions and that among the group's military aims has been an attempt to control the Turkish-Syrian border and form a contiguous area with Iraqi Kurdistan and the Kurdish regions of Turkey.

Also Friday, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said that although the US has no indication of structural problems with the Tabqa dam, it is sending a "dam assessment team" to assess its condition "and ensure it continues operating".

Another activist group, Raqqa Being Slaughtered Silently, said public markets in Raqqa had been closed and that militants ordered merchants to leave the main vegetable market for the next few days, without providing details.

Turkey has been enraged by an increase in the supply of heavy weapons including mortars and anti-tank missiles to the Kurds who, alongside British and American special forces, have been tightening the noose around the militant's "capital" Raqqa.

He added that the US -led coalition "tracked fleeing fighters and targeted those that could be safely hit without harming civilians".

Retired Adm. James Stavridis, NATO's supreme allied commander from 2009 to 2013, said Turkey is unlikely to close the base to USA operations because Ankara receives benefits tremendously from associated economic incentives and intelligence sharing.

But U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he was confident the United States would be able to resolve the tensions. Yesterday, more than 1,200 people were bused out of rebel-controlled districts of Damascus as part of a settlement bringing Syria's government closer to controlling the whole capital.

Other reports by iNewsToday