Backed force seizes key Syria city, dam from IS

Meanwhile, during an interview with NTV, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said that US decision to supply weapons to Syrian Kurdish militants will "neither benefit the USA nor the region".

The YPG has joined with another militia group called the Syrian Arab Coalition under the banner of the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to battle ISIS.

Turkey yesterday slammed as unacceptable a USA plan to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers terrorists, but the militia applauded a "historic" move that would hasten the extremists' defeat. The Pentagon also insisted that the Kurdish militia was one of their strongest partners on the ground fighting Isis in Iraq and Syria, and the SDF was the closest to retaking Raqqa.

Other officials said Trump's authorization includes safeguards meant to reassure the Turks that the additional US weaponry and equipment will not be used by the Kurds in Turkey. The U.S. will supply the Kurdish elements of the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces "as necessary", Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement Tuesday.

The United States views the PKK and YPG as two separate groups.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he hoped Washington would "reverse" its decision to arm a Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) before his visit to the US next week.

The capture of Tabqa seven weeks after the launch of the SDF offensive, with help from the USA -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. He and other officials have said the US will closely monitor the weapons' distribution and insure that they are used only against IS.

Washington has stepped up its support for the YPG in recent days, announcing it would arm the Kurdish fighters in a break with its previous policy of arming only the Arab groups in the alliance. "We have very open discussions about options and we will work together, we will work out any of the concerns", he said. It remains to be seen what shadow the issue will cast over the talks between Trump and Erdogan, which have been touted as chance to forge a new partnership between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

"The argument that a ground operation in the fight against Daesh would be successful only with YPG has nothing to do with reality", he said.

Jim Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Heritage Foundation, said the move will anger Turkey ahead of its White House visit next week. "Otherwise, the outcome won't only affect Turkey, a negative outcome will also emerge for the United States", he said.

Turkey opposes a U.S.

Mass killings in the Syrian conflict by government forces and militants affiliated with ISIS and other groups have been long reported. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the matter, said artillery or surface-to-air missiles would not be provided.

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