The Associated Press ANKARA (AP) — Turkish officials said Thursday that U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has written to his Turkish counterpart, reassuring him that arms provided to Syrian Kurdish fighters would be taken back once Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants are ousted from their main stronghold in Syria, the city of Raqqa.
Turkish Defense Ministry officials said in a statement that Mattis also reassured Defense Minister Fikri Isik that the United States would regularly provide Turkey with a list of arms provided to the fighters while U.S. military advisers on the field would ensure that the arms don’t go outside of the Syria battle zones.
A U.S. decision to launch an offensive to capture Raqqa in partnership with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces has complicated relations with Ankara, which views the group’s Kurdish fighters as an extension of an insurgent Kurdish terror group operating in Turkey.
Ankara fears arms provided to the Kurdish fighters will end up in the hands of the insurgents in Turkey and has threatened to respond to threats. The officials said Mattis told Isik that 80 percent of the force, which would capture Raqqa, would be made up of Arabs and that an Arab force would hold the city.Speech