Mattis cites good talks with Turkey on fighting IS in Syria

FBI Director James Comey arrives for a meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Organized Crime Council and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Executive Committee in Washington D.C

On Wednesday, Ilnur Cevik, senior aide to President Erdogan, said American forces teaming with members YPG could be in danger of being hit by Turkish fighters patrolling the volatile border region with Syria. But they have continued to complain publicly about what they framed as a counterproductive United States strategy that amounted to enlisting a terrorist group to fight another terrorist group.

Kurdish forces are on the move to take back Raqqa, the city ISIS declared its capital.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has been vocal about the issue and has said he would try to convince Trump that Turkish-backed forces should be used to retake Raqqa from IS when the two meet in mid-May.

The decision to arm the Kurds was announced just hours after Pentagon chief Jim Mattis met with a Turkish official in Denmark at an anti-IS coalition summit.

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While there is no mention in the statement of arming the Kurds - it only calls to "equip" them - US defense officials told Fox News the plan includes supplying machine guns, small arms, ammunition, bulldozers and armored vehicles such as the M1117 Guardian.

His approval gives the Pentagon the go-ahead to "equip Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces as necessary to ensure a clear victory over ISIS" in Raqqa, said White, who was traveling with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Europe. "We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the United States is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally", White said.

The Syrian regimes actions and policies, including with respect to chemical and biological weapons, supporting terrorist organisations, and obstructing the Lebanese governments ability to function effectively, continue to foster the rise of extremism and sectarianism and pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, Trump said.

Mattis would not elaborate on the possible Turkish involvement or if that meant Turkish troops would enter Raqqa.

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"We're going to sort it out", Mattis said. "That's not to say we all walk into the room with same appreciation of the problem".

However, consideration of Turkey's opposition to arm the Kurdish forces delayed a decision by the Obama administration. In the latest airstrikes, on Tuesday, Turkey said that it had destroyed "PKK terrorist camps" in northern Iraq, according to Turkey's semi-official Anadolu News Agency. A full list wasn't immediately available, but officials had indicated in recent days that 120mm mortars, machines guns, ammunition and light armored vehicles were possibilities.

Turkey allows the USA -led coalition fighting ISIS to use one of its air bases for warplanes involved in the fight, but one risk for the Americans is that Erdogan could withdraw that permission over his objections about the Kurds.

"But we will work it out".

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