Islamic State Defeated at Tabqa Dam

Islamic State Defeated at Tabqa Dam

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to protecting Turkey at a meeting with the Turkish prime minister in London.

US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces have defeated Islamic State fighters in the city of Tabqa and have seized Tabqa Dam, a key objective for the militias before a planned attack on the terror group's de-facto capital, Raqqa.

In talks that Pentagon chief spokesperson Dana White described as good and calm, the officials reaffirmed their support for peace and stability in Iraq and Syria.

Turkey today slammed as unacceptable a U.S. plan to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers terrorists, but the militia applauded a "historic" move that would speed up the defeat of Islamic State (IS) extremists.

"The SDF, partnered with enabling support from US and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future", Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said earlier on the same day that he could not imagine the U.S. having to choose between Turkey's strategic partnership and a "terrorist organisation".

Tabqa had served as a base for IS's foreign fighters and for planning operations in other countries since the militants lost other territories in northern Syria.

Is he overly concerned how ally Turkey may react?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that he hoped the decision will be changed by the time he visits Washington for talks with Trump next week. The US has long directly supplied arms to the Arab components of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, which include YPG fighters.

Erdogan has shown no signs of backing away from his demand that the USA break ties with the YPG, which is viewed in Turkey as linked to the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party. Meanwhile, Yıldırım also met on May 11 with British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the Somalia conference in London. He has demanded Washington reverse the decision, and said he would take up the issue with Trump.

Khalil dismissed the label, saying the USA would not supply arms to terrorists.

Mr Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and analyst at Carnegie Europe, said: "Turkey doesn't have much room to move here".

The US-led coalition said a first consignment of weapons was already in place for delivery and could be dispatched to the Kurds "very quickly".

The Trump administration has not specified the kinds of arms to be provided, but US officials have indicated that 120 mm mortars, machine guns, ammunition and light armored vehicles were possibilities. "Every weapon seized by them is a threat to Turkey".

In the statement Thursday, the worldwide coalition said with the capture of Tabqa, the SDF has further isolated Raqqa and "will continue to pursue the military defeat" of IS throughout Syria.

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