Trumps says U.S. will stop arming Kurdish forces: Turkey official
President Trump told his Turkish counterpart Friday that the U.S. would no longer supply weapons to Syrian Kurdish fighters, a Turkish official said.
The Turks view the militia, known as the YPG, as terrorists while the U.S. has treated the fighters as an ally in the fight against the Islamic State.
“Mr. Trump clearly stated that he had given clear instructions and that the YPG won’t be given arms and that this nonsense should have ended a long time ago,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who claimed to have been in the room with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the call.
Officials at the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department said they were unaware of such changes.
The White House read-out of the call was vague on the subject, saying Trump informed Erdogan of “pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria.”
Relations between the U.S. and Turkey soured in May when the Pentagon began sending AK-47s and small-caliber machine guns to the Kurdish force battling ISIS in northern Syria.
The weapons were sent as part of a shipment intended to bolster the forces ahead of an upcoming offensive to retake Raqqa, ISIS’ de facto capital.
U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab militias seized the city in October. The Syrian army declared victory over ISIS earlier this month.
If Trump is planning to cut off arms shipments to the YPG, it would amount to an abrupt policy reversal.
The President himself authorized the arms shipments in May.
The Pentagon said at the time that the Kurdish fighters were “the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future.”
With News Wire Services
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