US officials have confirmed they are supplying arms to a Kurdish-led coalition in Syria, angering Turkey and jeopardising a precarious common front in the war against Islamic State extremists.
The officials say that the US is supplying only light weapons and they are going to the Arab contingent of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). However, Kurdish officials linked to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the dominant partner in the SDF, say they have been promised the US will arm them directly if they lead the battle for Isis’s Syrian stronghold in Raqqa.
Ankara has reacted furiously to news of the arms supplies, as it views the YPG as a terrorist group, linked to Turkish Kurd militants. The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he found out about US planes carrying arms landing at the Kurdish-controlled town of Kobani, while he was attending the UN general assembly in New York, at which he met the US vice-president, Joe Biden. Erdoğan claimed Biden said he was unaware of the arms deliveries.