wnol.info July 21 2018

Turkey: Trump told Erdogan won't give Syria Kurds more arms

July 21 2018, 12:14 | Irvin Gilbert

Turkey: Trump told Erdogan won't give Syria Kurds more arms

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey weclomed what he said was a promise by US President Donald Trump that Washington will no longer arm Kurdish militia in Syria

Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, spoke with reporters Friday following a phone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Syrian Kurds, who have a troubling history with both Turkey and the Syrian government, have begun talks with Assad in hopes of gaining greater autonomy in their ancestral homelands of northern Syria, where the conflict has allowed them to establish de facto rule.

But Turkey views the YPG and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as "terror" groups linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

There was no immediate reaction from the United States.

While Turkey was a traditional USA ally and fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, Turkey's alliances in Syria have at times alienated it from both the US and Russian camps. "Trump very clearly said he had given instructions to not provide weapons to the YPG".

Pointing to the recent high-level visits to Greece from Turkey, Cavusoglu said Erdogan's visit would complement the previous meetings.

The U.S. scaled back and ultimately cut Central Intelligence Agency support for rebel groups, instead focusing on a Pentagon program to back the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mostly Kurdish alliance of Arabs and ethnic minorities.

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As recently as May, the Trump administration was refusing to stop arming the Kurds.

As the fight against IS has waned in recent months, the US has pledged to carefully monitor the weapons it provides the Kurds, notably ensuring that they don't wind up in the hands of Kurdish insurgents in Turkey known as the PKK.

Still, Friday's announcement from the Turkish foreign minister - if confirmed by the US - would mark the latest blow to the Kurds.

Kurdish group has been successfully battling the Islamic State (IS) which took over Syria in 2014 and Washington sees Kurds as the most reliable allies in defeating IS.

Relations have has also been strained by Turkey's crackdown on dissent following a failed coup attempt previous year and Ankara's demands that the US extradite a Pennsylvania-based cleric that it blames for fomenting the coup.

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