Turkey after 'joint mechanism' with US to collect arms from Syrian Kurds
Iran Press TV
Sat Jun 24, 2017 5:3PM
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik says Ankara wants a "joint mechanism" with Washington to take back weapons supplied to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) once the US-backed militiamen manage to drive Daesh Takfiri terrorists out of Syria's northern city of Raqqah.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Turkish-language NTV television news channel, Isik stated that he is set to discuss the issue with his US counterpart Jim Mattis on June 28 and on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in the Belgian capital Brussels.
Mattis, in a letter addressed to his Turkish counterpart on Thursday, said that Washington would take back all weapons provided to the Kurds once Raqqah is liberated.
The Turkish minister noted that Mattis's letter to him points to the fact that the United States has taken into consideration Turkey's security concerns regarding the YPG, which is a major component of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
"It's important that they are making a written commitment. But, we will see if the statements in the letter are met on the ground," Isik said.
In his letter, Mattis stated that the United States has taken intensive and determined measures regarding Turkey's security concerns, and would provide the Ankara government with a monthly list of the weapons and equipment supplied to the YPG.
The US defense secretary noted that the first inventory list was submitted to Turkish officials earlier this month.
On June 6, the SDF said it had launched an operation aimed at pushing Daesh out of Raqqah.
The city of Raqqah, which lies on the northern bank of the Euphrates River, was overrun by Daesh terrorists in March 2013, and was proclaimed the center for most of the Takfiris' administrative and control tasks the following year.
Turkish officials have frequently voiced strong opposition to the involvement of the Kurdish People's Protection Units in the US-led offensive to retake Raqqah.
Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group, which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
Speaking to reporters while on a visit to Montenegro on May 10, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that Washington knows Ankara's position on the YPG very well so it should not take wrong steps in Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also set out Turkey's objections at a White House meeting with his counterpart Donald Trump last month.
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