U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan on a phone conversation on Wednesday indicated that both heads of state agreed to cooperate to fight against Islamic State in the Syrian towns of al-Bab and Raqqa. Sources close to the Turkish president revealed.
The conversation between the two leaders also touched on issues connected with the refugee crisis as well as the creation of a safe zone in Syria. Erdogan also asked the U.S. not to provide assistance to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia which Turkey considers as a terrorist organization.
White House confirmed the phone conversation and said that the two Presidents “shared commitment to combating terrorism in all its forms” as the President welcomed Turkey’s efforts in fighting against Islamic State. Further details of the conversation were not provided.
The Syrian Democratic Front (SDF) started its next phase in fighting the Islamic State occupying Raqqa. The SDF is an alliance of U.S. backed militias tasked to fight Islamic State in the area. The YPG Kurdish militia is part of the SDF alliance.
Turkey has always said that it wants to be part of the U.S. led coalition to liberate Raqqa but has reiterated its stand that they do not want to fight alongside the YPG.
Turkey-U.S. relations were a bit cold during President Obama’s term, as the U.S. has been supporting the YPG militia in fighting Islamic State. The YPG militia is directly linked to the Kurdish militants which is currently waging an insurgency in Turkey. Erdogan also complained that the U.S. in the past showed little support for the campaign against the Islamic State.
Both the White House and Ankara said that U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed his support for Turkey “as a strategic partner and NATO ally” during the conversation of the two leaders.
Sources in Turkey said that CIA Director Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit Turkey on Thursday to discuss matters regarding the YPG.