World Bulletin / News Desk
The US-led coalition fighting ISIL in Syria faces "tough decisions" on how much it should support Kurdish fighters in an offensive to reclaim Raqa from the militants, a senior US lawmaker warned Wednesday.
Senator John McCain, who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Trump administration is weighing the thorny issue of giving the Kurds heavy arms and a major role in the upcoming battle, which would infuriate key ally Turkey.
"The conundrum is that if you don't use the Kurds, (the battle) takes a lot longer," McCain told reporters.
"But if you do, you have an enormous challenge as far as relations with Turkey are concerned, including things like the use of Incirlik," he added, referring to the Turkish air base used heavily by the coalition to hit IS targets in northern Syria.
On April 16, Turks must decide whether to approve constitutional changes that would abolish the post of prime minister and could see Erdogan stay in power until 2029.
According to McCain, Erdogan is less interested in fighting IS than he is ensuring Kurdish forces do not expand their influence over the border region in northern Syria.
"There's going to be some tough decisions made here," McCain said.
"Erdogan is about to be elected virtual dictator of Turkey, and his ... first priority is the Kurds."
In August, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield inside Syria targeting ISIL and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are dominated by YPG Kurdish fighters that Ankara says are "terrorists."
The SDF is the primary ground force encircling Raqa, which IS views as its capital, and an offensive on the city proper is only a matter of time.
The Pentagon on Wednesday said it had provided airlift and artillery support for primarily Arab components of the SDF in a battle for Tabqa, a key town near Raqa.
Last Mod: 22 Mart 2017, 21:35