USA may have dispersed equipment to Syrian Kurds 'very quickly'

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The US defence secretary James Mattis and Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim held talks in London on Thursday in the highest-level meeting between the two sides since the US announced its decision to arm the YPG, although it was not clear if they discussed the issue.

U.S. Central Command announced Thursday that the U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish and Arab force, recaptured the key Syrian city of Tabqah, the Tabqah Dam and a nearby airfield from the Islamic State, continuing to weaken ISIS's control of territory and people.

The SDF is a coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters that has been working to isolate the city, but Ankara considers the group terrorists and an extension of outlawed Kurdish insurgents in Turkey. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the U.S., Turkey and the European Union.

A USA official told Reuters that the United States was looking to boost intelligence cooperation with Turkey to support its fight against the PKK.

The defense secretary, speaking to reporters aboard a US military airplane after the meeting in London, characterized the discussions as "honest, transparent and helpful".

President Donald Trump approved arming the Syrian Kurdish militia this week to support the US -led offensive in Raqqa.

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The two met for about half an hour before the start of an global conference in London on security threats and humanitarian crises in Somalia. A high-level Turkish delegation including Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Turkey's spy chief Hakan Fidan had been in the USA laying the groundwork for the meeting.

A senior USA official said Thursday the US will be increasing joint intelligence-sharing with the Turks, in an effort to help them better target terrorists. The YPG played a pivotal role in the liberation of Kobani, while PKK fighters are partly credited with liberating Sinjar (the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq contests that their participation was positive for the region). Last month, Erdogan said if Turkey and the United States joined forces, they could turn Raqa into a "graveyard" for Daesh. President Erdogan is scheduled to meet with President Trump next week in Washington and the decision to arm the YPG adds to the tensions.

"We expect that this mistake is to be rectified", he said, days ahead of a crunch meeting in Washington between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United States counterpart Donald Trump.

A US official said Thursday that the weapons have not yet been delivered to the Kurds.

The Syrian Kurds have been encircling Raqqa, preparing for the launch of what the US military predicts will be a long and hard battle to retake the city.

U.S. Air Force Col. John L. Dorrian, U.S. spokesman for the U.S. -led anti-Islamic State worldwide coalition called the Combined Joint Task Force: Operation Inherent Resolve, made the announcement during a webcast press conference on Wednesday.

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