France welcomes SDF advance against ISIS in Syria's Raqqa


That voices in the Turkish government would even hint that Turkish forces might risk killing USA personnel in order to attack YPG forces shows the depth of Turkish hostility to the YPG and PKK who they see posing an existential threat to Turkey.

The U.S. sees the Syrian Kurds as the only force capable of quickly capturing Islamic State's self-declared capital of Raqqa in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who opens an official visit to Washington Tuesday, told reporters last week that he hoped "this [U.S. decision] will be reversed immediately".

That decision has been roundly criticized by Turkey, which sees a key Syrian Kurdish unit in the USA -backed SDF alliance, the so-called YPG, as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK.

"America is going through a transitional period now", Erdogan said, and Turkey "must be more careful and sensitive".

Regarding "terrorists", the US and Turkey do not see eye-to-eye.

"Now we will conduct the final talks", Erdogan said. At the moment, however, annihilating Islamic State is the overriding priority in the Syrian civil war-reason enough to make arming the Kurds official U.S. policy. Erdoğan will meet Trump for the first time since the latter assumed office, with the talks "to be in the format of a point rather than a comma" in terms of the allies' future ties, according to the Turkish leader.

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Ties have also been strained by Turkey's demand for the extradition of US -based cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Turkey blames for last year's failed coup attempt. Washington, meanwhile, has suggested it will attempt to assuage Turkey's concerns by supporting Turkish security. Gulen's supporters likely fear such an outcome, but it is hard to imagine that Sessions, even if he were convinced that political considerations trumped the law in this case, would acquiesce to such an action on the heels of the early termination of the Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

It puts the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies on a collision course over one of the biggest foreign policy issues. But during the transition, Kahl wrote in an article last week in Foreign Policy, Michael Flynn, Trump's then-incoming national security adviser, "asked the administration to hold off" so Trump could review the situation.

Erdogan sent several senior officials, including his military and intelligence chiefs, to Washington for preparatory talks but the Turkish delegation failed to prevent the US administration's decision to directly arm the YPG. Flynn, Kahl noted, was later found to be a paid consultant to pro-government Turkish interests. First, enhanced and increased USA assistance against the PKK, without any public expressions of concern about the tactics the Turkish military uses in civilian areas of southeastern Turkey.

On the Gulen matter, Erdogan is expected to discuss some interim steps that his government has already asked for, such as Justice Department questioning of the cleric and restrictions on his US movements while the extradition request is pending, or at least an effort to curtail the weekly video messages he sends to his followers in Turkey.

President Donald Trump is welcoming Turkey's president to the White House for their first face-to-face meeting Tuesday, even as Turkish officials fumed over a US decision to arm the Syrian Kurds.

"Put yourself in the shoes of the Turkish president", the official said.

Turkish leaders have voiced fears that any heavy weaponry used by the SDF against extremists at Raqqa will eventually fall into the hands of PKK fighters, who have battled the Turkish government for an autonomous homeland in Turkey's southeast for more than three decades. Reports said Erdogan's aides were told by US officials about the decision on May 8, one day before the move was made public. That is not to say that Turkey would not have any problem with Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria even if its Kurdish policy were more moderate, but Turkey would have not faced so many crises in the region in such a case. Last week's decision, however, arms Kurdish units in Syria known as the YPG. The U.S. not only condemned the attack, but also deployed more troops and armored vehicles in the region to serve as a buffer between Turkey and the YPG.