Trump will go ahead with Kurds in Raqqa, US officials say

Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) head a convoy of US military vehicles in the town of Darbasiya next to the Turkish border, Syria April 28, 2017. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)

When Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets his US counterpart Donald Trump in Washington on May 16-17, he will most likely be informed that the White House will go ahead with the operation to push out the Islamic State (IS) with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) despite the heavy protests from Ankara, Foreign Policy wrote on Friday.

Several officials told the  magazine that US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis is about to sign an authorisation upon request from US Central Command which will give a leading role to the Kurdish forces People’s Protection Units (YPG) based on a plan drafted by the Obama administration. The same officials and experts also said that President Trump almost certainly would approve the plan brought on his table by commanders.

The Turkish President has called several times on Donald Trump to ditch support for the YPG that make up large parts of the SDF and has proved to be the most effective force fighting IS in Syria.

Despite Ankara’s efforts to persuade Washington to pursue a different plan together with Turkey, the US believes that their NATO ally does “not have that much to contribute militarily,” according to analyst Linda Robinson who spoke to Foreign Policy upon a recent return from a visit to Syria with US commanders.

Strained relations between Ankara and Washington recently took another dive following Ankara’s airstrikes on SDF positions in northern Syria.

A statement from a senior advisor to Turkey’s President went as far as saying that US troops working with Kurdish forces in northern Syria were in danger of being hit by Turkish soldiers at the border.