Turkey: US defense secretary says arms given to Kurds will be reclaimed after defeat of ISIL

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WASHINGTON, USA - JUNE 13: Secretary of Defense Minister James Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on President Trumps proposed 2018 budget for the Department of Defense in Washington, USA on June 13, 2017. AFP

The Turkish Defense Ministry said on Thursday that US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis assured his Turkish counterpart, Fikri Işık, that the relationship between the United States and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia was a tactical one and that arms provided by the US in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) would be taken back after its defeat.

According to a story by the state-run Anadolu news agency, Mattis pledged to provide to Turkey a monthly list of weapons and equipment supplied to the Kurdish militia. One such list was handed over to Turkey earlier this month, the letter said.

In the letter, which was provided by the Defense Ministry to reporters, Mattis described the ties between the US and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is consists mainly of YPG militia and which Washington views as its main ally on the ground against ISIL in Syria, as a tactical partnership.

Underlining that weapons delivered to the SDF will taken back after ISIL is defeated in Syria, Mattis pointed out that 80 percent of the SDF troops who will go into Raqqa would be Arabs rather than Kurds from the YPG, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey due to its ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

On May 23 the US Army dispatched new military equipment in nearly 100 trucks to the YPG after President Donald Trump authorized the arming of the YPG in Syria ahead of a planned assault to retake the city of Raqqa from ISIL, causing anger in Ankara.

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