BEIRUT – The Latest on Syria (all times local):
Turkish media are quoting Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli as saying the U.S. decision to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters viewed as terrorists by Turkey is "unacceptable."
The U.S. said it would provide arms to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to help them drive Islamic State militants from the extremists' de facto capital, Raqqa. Turkey says the Syrian Kurdish group known as the YPG, which forms the backbone of the force, is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK, which is waging an insurgency in Turkey.
Turkey, the U.S. and other Western allies view the PKK as a terrorist group.
Hurriyet newspaper quoted Canikli as saying Wednesday: "The United States is providing every kind of aid to the PKK through (Syrian Kurdish forces)."
Canikli expressed hope that Washington would reverse its decision, saying "there is no truth to the claim that the fight against Daesh can only succeed with the (Syrian Kurdish forces)." Daesh is the Arabic acronym for IS.
A top Syrian Kurdish official says the U.S. decision to arm Kurdish fighters with heavier weapons will help legitimize the force, which is denounced as a terrorist organization by Turkey.
The Trump administration announced Tuesday it will arm the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces "as necessary" to recapture the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. NATO ally Turkey strongly objects to the alliance because it sees the Kurds as an extension of the insurgency raging in its southeast.
Ilham Ahmed, a top official in the Syrian Democratic Forces' political office, tells The Associated Press Wednesday the decision means the SDF is the force designated to recapture Raqqa.
She said the decision is likely to be met with "aggression" from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is to visit Washington next week.