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Mattis Cites Good Talks with Turkey on Fighting IS in Syria

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 11:38 AM

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday he had useful discussions with Turkey and the two countries are working out differences over a U.S. alliance with Syrian Kurds in fighting Islamic State militants.

While Washington considers the Kurds, known as the YPG, to have most effectively fought IS in northern and eastern Syria, Turkey considers them an extension of a banned terrorist group in its territory.

"That's not to say we all walk into the room with exactly the same appreciation of the problem or the path forward," Mattis told reporters in Denmark after meeting with officials from more than a dozen nations also fighting IS. Basat Ozturk, a senior Turkish defense official, participated.

"We're going to sort it out," Mattis said. "We'll figure out how we're going to do it."

The Pentagon would like to arm the Syrian Kurds as part of the planned push to recapture Raqqa, but the Turks have been adamantly opposed. Efforts to reach some type of compromise have dragged on for months.

Tensions escalated last month when Turkey conducted airstrikes on Kurdish bases in Syria and Iraq. The Turkish military said it killed at least 90 militants and wounded scores. The Kurdish group in Syria said 20 of its fighters and media activists were killed in the strike, which was followed by cross-border clashes.

Washington worries the instability will slow the effort to retake Raqqa, IS' self-declared capital in Syria. Fighters have been encircling Raqqa, with help from U.S. forces advising them, and American officials are weighing more assistance to help them drive IS from the city.

"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.

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday he had useful discussions with Turkey and the two countries are working out differences over a U.S. alliance with Syrian Kurds in fighting Islamic State militants.While Washington considers the Kurds, known as the YPG, to have most...
EU,United States,Turkey
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2017-38-09
Tuesday, 09 May 2017 11:38 AM
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