Pentagon chief, Turkish PM meet after decision to arm Kurds

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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to protecting Turkey at a meeting with the Turkish prime minister in London.

Turkish deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli also criticized Washington noting that support for the group "will profit nobody". Turkey contends the SDF's Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the YPG, is a terrorist group affiliated with the outlawed PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, a terror group that has been battling the Turkish state for many years.

Dorrian said the SDF fully isolated IS fighters in the Taqba dam, the largest dam in Syria which is a key source of electricity for the region, from the rest of the city.

Dorrian said he did not have an exact timeline detailing when the Kurdish fighters would receive the weapons, but said any equipment provided by the United States would be "metered out" and aligned with specific tasks involved in the operation to retake Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS's self-proclaimed caliphate.

The SDF is a multiethnic group spearheaded by the YPG, an organization Ankara considers the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization in Turkey, the USA, and EU.

In a surprise announcement, the Pentagon had said Trump had authorized the arming of Kurdish fighters within the Syrian Democratic Forces "to ensure a clear victory over ISIS in Raqa".

Mr Yildirim said he could not imagine the USA having to choose between Turkey's strategic partnership and a terrorist organisation.

During its control of Tabqa and a nearby airbase since 2014, ISIS released video footage of militants parading dozens of Syrian soldiers handcuffed through a desert in their underwear and then executing them.

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The Kurdish-Arab SDF has been the main faction fighting Daesh on the ground in Syria, but Turkey dismisses it as a front for the YPG.

On Wednesday morning, the Turkish government denounced the U.S. decision.

"I hope very much that this mistake will be reversed immediately", Mr Erdogan said. "Such a policy will not be beneficial - you can't be in the same sack as terrorist organisations".

The YPG and its political arm, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), denies any direct links with the PKK, which is waging an insurgency in Turkey for Kurdish autonomy. It said warplanes, thought to belong to the US-led military coalition, hit al-Salihiya village.

"I will personally express our worries in a detailed way when we talk with President Trump on May 16", he added, saying the issue would also be discussed at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels on May 25. He earlier said that after Tabqa is secured, the Syrian Kurdish-led forces will continue operations to "isolate and seize Raqqa".

But the U.S.is convinced they are the most effective local fighting force against IS.

A senior Kurdish official told the Associated Press that the United States decision carried "political meaning" and "legitimise the YPG and the Syrian Democratic Forces". But Ilham Ahmed warned it would likely be met with "aggression" from Turkey.

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