Syrian Observatory: dozens killed in air strike in Islamic State-held town
Jun 28 2017
Mattis also said the battle against ISIL would continue even after Raqqa was captured and focused his answers about USA weapons' recovery on items he believed the YPG would no longer need in battle.
Turkish officials late last week said Mattis had reassured them by letter that arms given to the Syrian Kurds would be taken back and that the US would provide Turkey with a regular list of arms give to the fighters. "If they have another fight and they need, you know, the light trucks that they've been using. we'll get them that". The U.S. says that attack was launched from the Shayrat air base.
In suggesting that the United States may continue to require the assistance of the Kurdish YPG in eliminating the threat posed by Daesh, Mattis inferred that the Pentagon would not take away arms provided for the recapture of Raqqa, even going so far as to say that new weapons could be provided to the Kurdish fighters - dashing the hopes of Turkish President Reccip Tayyip Erdogan. "So it may look a little more squiggly", Mattis said, according to AP.
Mattis also acknowledged that the USA would continue to supply Kurdish forces in the north with weapons despite objections by US ally Turkey.
April's attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun was reported to have killed at least 87 people, including many children, and images of the dead and of suffering victims provoked global outrage.
Just hours after his remarks, however, the White House released a statement saying that it had reason to believe Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces were preparing for a chemical weapons attack and that his military would "pay a heavy price" if it conducted any such strike.
Coalition forces on the ground have accused pro-regime fighters of targeting them in recent weeks, as they shot down two Iran-made attack drones and a Syrian fighter jet. Assad's government and his allies deny the allegation.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, which views the YPG as a threat, has said Mattis assured it in a letter that the United States would eventually take back the weapons it was giving them once Islamic State was defeated.
The White House offered no details on what prompted the warning.
Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdish PKK, which has been waging an insurgency in the country's southeast since the mid-1980s. Turkish President Erdoğan once again harshly criticized the USA on June 25 for providing arms to YPG, declaring the move to be a violation of the NATO treaty.
To allay this fear, Mattis, according to a report in Reuters last week, indicated in a letter to his Turkish counterpart that the Pentagon would take back the weapons from the Kurdish fighters after the Raqqa campaign.
US-backed forces are pushing to oust IS, also known as ISIS and ISIL, from its last major urban strongholds, Raqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.