US Will Supply Heavier Arms to Syrian Kurds to Fight ISIS

Turkey accuses the US of arming terrorists to fight terrorists
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2017 4:29 PM CDT
Turkey Accuses US of Arming Terrorists to Fight Terrorists
This undated image posted online May 1, 2017 by supporters of the Islamic State purports to show an IS fighter firing his weapon during clashes with US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa.   (Militant Photo via AP)

President Trump will provide heavier arms to Syrian Kurds in a move certain to anger Turkey, the New York Times reports. The US will supply YPG with things like anti-tank missiles and heavy machine guns so the Kurdish militia can help take Raqqa, a Syrian city serving as the capital of the Islamic State. According to the Washington Post, Defense Department spokesperson Dana White says YPG is "the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future." Here's the problem: Turkey says YPG is tied to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and both Turkey and the US consider the Kurdistan Workers' Party to be a terrorist group.

The Obama administration had been considering arming YPG but wanted to figure out how to do it while preserving the US' relationship with Turkey, the AP reports. "We're going to sort it out," Defense Secretary James Mattis says. The Pentagon states the US will arm YPG "as necessary." It won't supply the militia with surface-to-air missiles or artillery and may require it to return the weapons after specific missions to keep them from being used in Turkey. US officials say they've assured Turkey that YPG won't be part of establishing a new government in Raqqa following the fighting. Meanwhile, Turkey is complaining about the US arming terrorists to fight terrorists. (More Syria stories.)

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