Pentagon: US will support Kurdish militia after Raqqa fighting

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Meanwhile, Naser Haj Mansour, an adviser to the Syrian Democratic Forces - a US-backed umbrella group mostly comprised of YPG fighters - on Thursday said the SDF had made a decision to confront Turkish forces and warned of a "big possibility of open, fierce confrontation".

"In case they lead to a threat to our borders, we will respond the same way as during the Euphrates Shield operation", Erdogan told the Russian Izvestia newspaper, adding that Turkey would not allow establishment of a Kurdish state in Syria and was ready to carry out another large-scale military campaign if needed. The YPG is an ally of the United States and has provided America intelligence for airstrikes against ISIS for years.

He said Turkey will retaliate against any cross-border gunfire from the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria and will not remain silent in the face of activities by terrorist groups against Turkey overseas. "The Coalition recognizes the threat the PKK poses to Turkey, but Turkey can not pursue that fight at the expense of our common fight against terrorists that threaten us all", he said, in reference to the war on ISIS jihadists.

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Rudaw cites the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as reporting that the Turkish military has "shelled repeatedly" targets in Afrin, northern Syria.

But Washington's relationship with Turkey is more strained now as the US -led coalition appears to have settled on the YPG as its most vital ally in the fight against ISIS.

Turkish President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned in recent days that Turkish troops could cross into northern Syria to prevent the YPG from helping Kurds to form what he called "a state".

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A deep rift has developed among North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and the United States over the latter's support for the SDF and especially its decision to arm the group.

On Thursday, Kurtulmus repeated the Turkish government's criticism of the United States administration and called the arming of the YPG a result of United States "indecision". They were beating ISIS in every battle. Commenting on Ankara's claims Tuesday, Mattis said, "we'll do what we can". Mattis claimed that the U.S. had made it clear all along "we're going to equip them for the fight".

Mattis' comments marked the first time he has spoken at length publicly about the USA pledge to recover the weapons provided to the Kurds. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was even more direct, predicting that the situation would be even more complex after the fall of Raqqa. The Turkish defense ministry said that the first inventory had already been sent to Turkey.

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