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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

America pledges to stop arming Kurdish fighters

Donald Trump tells his Turkish counterpart that the United States will no longer supply the Kurdish Syrian Fighters

Donald Trump appears to have rescinded his support from the Kurdish Syrian Fighters. Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
Donald Trump appears to have rescinded his support from the Kurdish Syrian Fighters. Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

President Donald Trump has indicated to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the United States will no longer provide weapons to Kurdish fighters whom the administration had previously supported.

The Americans had funnelled arms to the Kurdish Syrian fighters (YPG) who had enjoyed considerable in the long-term fight against Isil. But the Associated Press reported on Friday that Mr Trump had reassured president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that weapons will no longer be supplied, according to Turkey’s foreign minister.

“Our discomfort regarding the provision of weapons to the YPG was conveyed to Mr Trump once again... Trump very clearly said he had given instructions to not provide weapons to the YPG,” foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a news conference in Ankara.

“We welcome the promise of not providing weapons to the YPG, and want to see it implemented practically.”

Mr Cavusoglu said Mr Trump relayed his decision during a telephone conversation between the Turkish and US leaders on Friday. Cavusoglu was present in Mr Erdogan’s office during the telephone call.

Turkey considers the Kurdish Syrian fighters, known by the initials YPG, to be terrorists because of their affiliation to outlawed Kurdish rebels in Turkey. A US decision to arm the fighters soured relations between the two Nato allies.

Mr Cavusoglu also said that Russia, Iran and Turkey would decide jointly who would attend Syrian peace talks. Turkey has said it would not accept the presence of YPG representatives.

There was no immediate comment from the White House, the State Department or the Pentagon. But Turkey’s announcement appeared to catch at least some U.S. officials who work on Syria issues off-guard, with several saying they were unaware of any plans to alter U.S. assistance to the Kurds. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, Mr Trump tweeted that he'd be speaking with Mr Erdogan “about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East.”