Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday that US President Donald Trump told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the United States would no longer supply arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters.
The phone call between the two presidents came as Syria's main opposition group selected Nasr Hariri to head the negotiating team at a new round of UN-backed peace talks with the Damascus government in Geneva next week, a spokesman told Reuters.
Cavusoglu said Trump relayed his decision during a telephone conversation with Erdogan. Cavusoglu said he was present in Erdogan's office during the call.
Turkey considers the Kurdish Syrian fighters, the People's Protection Units or YPG, to be terrorists because of their affiliation to outlawed Kurdish militants that have waged a three-decade-long insurgency in Turkey.
The YPG was a key US ally against Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL' group] in Syria.
"Mr. Trump clearly stated that he had given clear instructions and that the YPG won't be given arms, and that this nonsense should have ended a long time ago," Cavusoglu said in a news conference in Ankara.
There was no immediate reaction from the US. But Turkey's announcement appeared to catch the Pentagon and the US State Department off guard. Officials at both agencies, who would normally be informed of changes in US policy toward arming the Syrian Kurds, said they were unaware of any changes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, relations between NATO allies Turkey and the United States have soured recently over a number of issues, including US support to Syrian Kurdish fighters.
Cavusoglu quoted Trump as saying that he had given instructions to US generals and to national security adviser Herbert Raymond McMaster that "no weapons would be issued."
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team