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Ankara Asks Washington for ‘Joint Mechanism’ to Disarm Kurds of US Arms | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Turkish armored vehicle along the Syrian border. (AFP)

Ankara – Turkey is seeking to establish a “joint mechanism” with the United States aimed at gathering the weapons that Washington recently sent to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

The arms were sent as part of the US support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Ankara is seeking to gather them as soon as Syria’s Raqqa city is liberated from the ISIS terrorist group.

Turkey’s step came in wake of US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ written pledge to Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik to grant Ankara access to the list of weapons that were sent to the YPG. He pledged that they will be gathered as soon as ISIS is defeated in Raqqa so that Turkey’s security is safeguarded against any danger stemming from the armament of these units.

He is also seeking for the liberation of the city to be carried out by a force that is 80 percent comprised of Arab troops.

Isik said in an interview on Friday night that he will discuss this pledge with Mattis when they meet on the sidelines of the NATO defense ministers meeting scheduled for Brussels on June 28.

He will also discuss with the US official the number of arms that were sent to the SDF seeing as there are discrepancies in the figures that Washington provided Ankara with and the ones that are published in the media.

Isik deemed Mattis’ pledge as “positive” because it takes into account Turkey’s concerns over the YPG, which Ankara has labeled as terrorist. The YPG makes up the bulk of the SDF.

“It was important that they make a written pledge,” he said of Mattis’ vow.

It remains to be seen if the pledge will be fulfilled, added Isik, while warning that Turkey will “immediately” retaliate to any threat from the YPG.

“We are assessing the threats that may emerge after the Raqqa operation. We will take the measures that will completely secure the borders. Turkey has the right to eliminate the terrorist threats there,” he added.

The battle to liberate Raqqa from ISIS started two weeks ago and Washington is relying on the SDF alliance to achieve the goal. It has also rejected Turkish efforts to take part in the operation.