Activists say Kurdish-led forces advance on IS-held Raqqa

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TABQA, Syria May 12 The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Friday their attack to capture Raqqa city from Islamic State would begin soon and the USA -led coalition would supply them with weapons including armoured vehicles for the assault.

The U.S.is expected to provide supplies such as heavy machine guns, mortars, antitank weapons, armored cars and engineering equipment, according to the New York Times.

The capture of Tabqa seven weeks after the launch of the SDF offensive, with help from the US -led coalition, sets the stage for an advance on Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the extremists' self-styled caliphate, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the east.

Ankara has argued that Washington should switch support for the Raqqa assault from the YPG to Syrian rebels Turkey has trained and led against Islamic State for the past year - despite US scepticism about their military capability. The Kurds have been among the most reliable fighters in the region and are expected to use the latest grant of arms and ammunition in the fight to retake Raqqa, symbolic capital of the Islamic State. The decision came just days before the SDF pushed ISIS out of the strategically significant town of Tabqa, positioning themselves to begin the assault on the militants' Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that US President Donald Trump had approved the arming of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) ahead of an attempt to drive Daesh from Raqqah. Keeping in mind that Syrian Kurds make up the majority of the SDF, which the US was already training and arming, how will this new decision affect the Kurds' military capabilities on the ground and the SDF's involvement in the anti-ISIS fight?

But Washington backs the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the YPG makes up roughly half, and which has been effective in fighting the IS group.

"We do not want any other forces to participate with us", said Abdelqader.

"Instead, we say [to Turkey's allies] it would be rational to cooperate with Turkey, which is the only regional country with economic and political stability", he added.

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Approving a plan of sending arms to Kurdish rebels fighting ISIS, he aggravated the situation in the Middle East even more. Ankara said the plan was "unacceptable" and a threat to its national security.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a "war on terrorism" aimed at the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as much, if not more so, than the IS.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday his visit to the United States next week could mark a "new beginning" in relations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies that were shaken by a U.S. decision to arm Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria.

"I do not wish to discuss military matters", Muslim said. He said he had no details about the team's makeup. Until the weapons arrive, no-one is heading for Raqqa.

"The city is near, very near", said Nasser Haj Mansour, an adviser for the SDF.

He added that the US -led coalition "tracked fleeing fighters and targeted those that could be safely hit without harming civilians".

Meanwhile, Kurdish analyst Mutlu Chiviroglu said the US considers Turkey's arguments unconvincing, as there is no real threat to Ankara from the Kurdish militia. Reports said Erdogan's aides were told by USA officials about the decision on May 8, one day before the move was made public.

In this April 6, 2017 photo, President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., after the USA fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria.

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