Turkey wants ‘joint mechanism’ with US to collect arms from YPG
ANKARAThe Turkish government wants to set up a “joint mechanism” with the U.S. to collect arms sent to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) by the U.S. after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is defeated, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık has said.
Speaking in a televised interview on June 23, Işık said he is set to discuss the issue with U.S. counterpart Jim Mattis on June 28 on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels.
He will also discuss the number of arms delivered to the SDF, a Kurdish-Syrian Arab alliance, as the figures given by the U.S. to Turkey and the ones reported in the press are different.
Işık said a letter sent by Mattis to him was “positive” in terms of the U.S. taking into account the concerns Turkey has regarding the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which forms a majority of the SDF and Ankara considers as linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“It’s important that they are making a written commitment,” he stated.
“But, we will see if the statements in the letter are met on the ground,” Işık said, recalling an earlier promise of the U.S. over the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij, which failed after the offensive against ISIL.
If the U.S. wants to accomplish this commitment, it will be successful to a large extend, he noted.
The Pentagon on May 30 said it had begun to transfer small arms and vehicles to the Kurdish elements of the SDF.
Washington provided Ankara a list of weapons delivered to the YPG and Mattis sent a letter to Işık assuring him that arms will be collected from SDF fighters just after ISIL is defeated in Syria.
The U.S. will regularly inform Turkey regarding the issue and American experts will work in Syria in order to ensure arms stay in the country, Mattis had said in his letter.