Turkey claims McMaster agreed to stop arming Kurdish militia in Syria

Turkey claimed on Saturday that President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE's national security adviser H.R. McMaster has agreed to stop arming a Kurdish militia in Syria that is fighting for autonomy in the long-running Syrian civil war.

The Turkish government said that McMaster told Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a phone call that the U.S. would no longer arm the YPG, a rebel group fighting in Syria, Reuters reported.

"It was emphasized that Turkey's legitimate security concerns must be paid attention to. It was agreed that close coordination would be carried out in order to avoid misunderstandings," the government said, according to Reuters.

Turkey's foreign minister also renewed the government's calls for the U.S. to withdraw troops from around Manbij, an area that Turkey plans to send its troops to push back YPG forces, to avoid a run-in with U.S. forces.


“The United States needs to break its link with (the) terrorist organization and make them drop their weapons completely. They need to collect the weapons they gave, they need to withdraw from Manbij immediately,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saturday.

The NATO ally began an offensive last week called "Olive Branch" against the Kurdish YPG force in northern Syria. Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey continued to simmer earlier this week as officials from both countries called on the other to scale back military involvement.

Turkey views the YPG, a mostly Kurdish group fighting in Syria, as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which it considers a terrorist group. 

The Turkish foreign minister previously claimed that Trump had agreed to stop arming the Syrian Kurdish fighters in talks with Erdoğan in November, and Trump has publicly said that arming the forces in the first place was a "mistake" in U.S. foreign policy. 

The U.S. has long viewed the YPG forces as necessary in the region because of their attacks on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria targets.