Syrian Democratic Forces close in on ISIL in Raqqa


According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. responded by openly demonstrating its flag within the framework of their mission in the northern part of Syria in order to prevent Turkey from hitting United States allies.

Trump has gone out of his way to foster a good relationship with Erdogan. They are not happy with the present situation either. Fed up with what he saw as the Obama administration's wishy-washy Syria policy, its unwise alliance with Kurdish "terrorists" and its failure to understand the need for some of his authoritarian policies, Erdogan envisioned a new dawn in U.S.

In late March, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the backbone of which is the Syrian Kurds, managed to capture the Tabqa airport, which has been under ISIS control since 2013. Turkey, which has NATO's second-biggest military, is concerned that growing Kurdish power in the region could inspire separatists at home, and that weapons provided by the USA could eventually be used against the Turkish military.

About 70 ISIS fighters conceded to SDF terms for Tabqa, which included dismantling improvised explosive devices around the dam, surrendering all heavy weapons and forcing the withdraw of all remaining fighters from the city, according to Davis.

Ties became poisoned in the last months of the Barack Obama administration by venomous disputes over USA support for Kurdish fighters in Syria and the presence in the USA of the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen whom Erdogan blames for last year's July 15 failed coup. Beyond the tension between Turkey and Israel, which complicates matters for Washington, Turkey's ongoing campaign against any hint of Kurdish self-determination has repeatedly raised issues for the U.S. over the years. ISIS has considered Raqqa as its capital for the past four years. The head of this terror organization is living in the U.S. Since we are partners as we are friends and friendly countries, you should deport him as soon as legal procedures are complete'. Gulen, who denies any involvement in the failed coup, has been living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999. Turkey pointed to the links the YPG has to the PKK, which both sides agree is a terrorist group. In 2013, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation deployed Patriot missile defence batteries in southern Turkey to protect it against possible Syrian attacks. The letter borrows heavily from talking points the Turkish Presidency used previously.

The step of directly arming the YPG was a step too far for Erdogan.

Erdogan arrived Monday in Washington, the Turkish flag hanging prominently outside the Blair House, a historic presidential guesthouse across the street from the White House. "We feel these actions were within the law of armed conflict". 'We have told our concern about this to America for a long time. The U.S. has apparently imposed conditions on the use of the weapons but the supply clearly strengthens the YPG.

Second, continued high-level consultations to preclude any surprises.

The Turkish authorities sent an official request to the US Department of Justice for extradition of Gulen, who lives in Philadelphia. Showing the Turks respect by avoiding surprising headlines will do much to smoothing relations in the face of divergent goals.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, makes a statement prior to his trip to China, followed by a trip to Washington, in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, May 12, 2017.

On the Gulen matter, Erdogan is expected to discuss some interim steps that his government has already asked for, such as Justice Department questioning of the cleric and restrictions on his US movements while the extradition request is pending, or at least an effort to curtail the weekly video messages he sends to his followers in Turkey.

Ed Stafford is a retired Foreign Service Officer whose last overseas assignment was to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey (2011-2014).