Turkey Expresses Concern to U.S. and Russia Over Help for Syrian Kurds

10/20/2015 - 00:33 AM

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ISTANBUL — The latest American plan to aid Syrian fighters battling the Islamic State hit a bump on Wednesday, as Turkish officials summoned the American ambassador to express concern that the United States was providing new support to Kurdish militants in Syria that Turkeyconsiders a primary enemy.

But in a twist, Turkey also summoned the Russian ambassador over concerns that Russia, too, was helping the Kurds. This could suggest that there is at least one area — supporting Kurdish militias — where American and Russian interests inside Syria may converge. Or it could be developing into another point of contention, as the two sides compete for the Kurds’ affections.

That would add another layer of complexity to the tangled battlefield inside Syria and potentially upend the American relationship with the Kurdish militias, the United States’ most important on-the-ground partner inside Syria in the fight against the Islamic State.

The Turks were reacting in part to the United States’ airdropping of 50 tons of ammunition over the weekend to members of an Arab-Kurdish coalition that the United States wants to build up so it can take on the Islamic State in its stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa. American officials say the equipment is meant only for the Arab fighters in the coalition. But multiple fighters on the ground say that in practice, they operate under Kurdish auspices.

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