Official says WH has approved weapons for Kurds

Australia continues commitment to counter Daesh

The YPG dominates a group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which also includes Arab, Christian and Turkmen fighters that have been the Pentagon's premier proxy force fighting the Islamic State in Syria. Turkey has expressed concerns over arming the Kurdish People's Protection Units, commonly referred to as the YPG, due to their connections to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, a Marxist group designated as a terrorist group by both the USA and Turkey. Already, the YPG has received air support from the United States and, indirectly through Arab fighters, some USA weaponry.

The plan to take Raqqa from ISIS with Kurdish forces is actually a tactic from the Obama administration playbook.

Turkish officials have privately acknowledged that the matter appeared to be decided.

USA defense officials have been mulling the move for months but waited to announce it until after a referendum that enabled President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to consolidate his power in April. A Turkish delegation briefly met with President Trump on Monday, according to a report in the Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper.

A USA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, clarified that Mattis was not signaling a new agreement on a Turkish role in the offensive or any decision on whether to arm the Kurdish fighters.

Senior US officials including General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have met repeatedly with Turkish officials to try to work out an arrangement for the Raqqa assault that would be acceptable to Ankara.

But Washington has adamantly resisted similarly designating the YPG, using it as its principal partner in the ground war in the fight against Daesh in northern Syria.

"I don't know if he's addressed this to the president yet", Mr. Spicer said, referring to Mr. Erdogan, noting the administration remains "keenly aware of the security concerns" expressed by Turkey over US cooperation with Kurdish forces.

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Past year the Obama administration authorized the supply of small arms, ammunition and vehicles to Arab forces aligned with the SDF.

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.

Turkey views the Kurdish rebels as terrorists and wants to stop them taking more territory in Syria.

"We've been conducting military and diplomatic dialogue with the Turks and it was a very, very useful discussion today", Mattis said at a press conference with Danish Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen. "We'll figure out how we're going to do it".

Mattis, speaking before the announcement to reporters in Denmark and after talks with coalition members, sounded upbeat about working through tensions with Ankara. "That's not to say we all walk into the room with same appreciation of the problem".

Once the order comes to the Pentagon, the USA can begin providing the Syrian Kurds with arms and equipment fairly quickly since some equipment is pre-positioned.

Turkey carried out a series of airstrikes against the YPG last month, a move that drew immediate complaints from U.S. officials. Kurdish forces have always been considered among the most reliable groups in the fight against ISIS.

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