Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said the president made the decision Monday and described the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, as "the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future".
A senior Republican senator is firmly backing the Trump administration's decision to supply Syria's Kurds with the heavier weapons they need to effectively fight the Islamic State group.
The SDF, with enabling support from the USA and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future, she asserted.
"I don't know if he's addressed this to the president yet", Mr. Spicer said, referring to Mr. Erdogan, noting the administration remains "keenly aware of the security concerns" expressed by Turkey over US cooperation with Kurdish forces. She said Mattis spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Fikri Isik, by telephone to reiterate a US commitment to "protecting our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally".
Tillerson told CBS News' "Face The Nation" last month, after the US released an air strike against a Syrian air base in response to a chemical weapons attack, that the USA will focus on ISIS first before addressing the other problems of war-ravaged Syria.
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Tillerson said. "Once the ISIS threat has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria". USA officials have championed the fight there as a key part of the operation to retake Raqqa and an example of the group's prowess.
Officials from the Turkish embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Times regarding the YPG arms deal. The US views the two Kurdish groups as distinct organizations. The intent is to restrict the distribution and use of the weaponry by permitting its use for specific battlefield missions and then requiring the Kurds to return it to USA control.
The jihadists' capital of their supposed "caliphate" is being surrounded by a Kurdish and Syrian Arab alliance and officials are expecting a brutal fight to retake the city.
He sounded upbeat on the relationship with Turkey, but it was not clear if the arming of the Kurds had come up in the discussion. "We're going to sort it out, we'll figure out how to do it, but we're all committed to it". However, over the last several weeks, Ankara has conducted a unilateral air campaign against Kurdish targets in Syria.
"Our intent is to work with the Turks, alongside one another, to take Raqqa down, and we're going to sort it out and we'll figure out how we're going to do it", Mattis told a news conference, after defence talks with members of the USA -led coalition battling IS. The Turkish military said it killed at least 90 fighters and wounded scores.