US Defense Secretary: ‘US commited to protect Turkey’

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, here speaking at the opening of the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 17, 2017. (Michael Dalder/Reuters)

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in London on Thursday that Washington was committed to protecting its NATO ally, his spokeswoman said, as Turkey fumes over a US decision to arm Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria.

The roughly half-hour meeting in London, where both men were attending a conference on Somalia, appeared to be the highest level talks between the two nations since the US decision was announced on Tuesday. Turkey views the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that lead the SDF as an extension of militants fighting on its own soil.