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US to arm Kurds fighting IS in Syria

BBC News logo BBC News 9/05/2017
A member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces monitors the town of Tabqa, on April 30, 2017: The SDF is pressing IS back in the key city of Tabqa © Getty Images The SDF is pressing IS back in the key city of Tabqa

US President Donald Trump has approved supplying weapons to Kurdish forces fighting so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria, the Pentagon says.

Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would be equipped to help drive IS from its stronghold, Raqqa, a spokeswoman said.

The US was "keenly aware" of Turkey's concerns about such a move, she said.

Turkey views the Kurdish rebels as terrorists and wants to stop them taking more territory in Syria.

The SDF, which comprises Kurdish and Arab militias, is supported by elite US forces and air strikes from a US-led coalition.

The group is currently battling IS for control of the city of Tabqa, an IS command centre just 50km (30 miles) from Raqqa.

Pentagon sources told the BBC that the equipment would include ammunition, small arms, machine guns, heavy machine guns, construction equipment such as bulldozers and armoured vehicles.

The source added that the US would "seek to recover" the equipment afterwards.

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