The Latest: Senior senator backs weapons decision on Kurds

May 9, 2017

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — The Latest on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ meetings on Syria (all times local):

3 p.m.

A senior Republican senator is firmly backing the Trump administration’s decision to supply Syria’s Kurds with the heavier weapons they need to effectively fight the Islamic State group.

The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, says arming the Kurds is “the only viable solution right now” as an attack on the extremists stronghold of Raqqa nears.

Is he overly concerned how ally Turkey may react? Corker says: “No. Sorry.”

He adds: Turkey’s “interests and ours are not aligned right now. At some point you’ve got to make a decision.”

He says he anticipates the U.S. will have “a little bit of a rub with Turkey for a period of time.”


1:10 p.m.

A senior U.S. official says the Trump administration has approved providing heavier weapons to Syria’s Kurds as they move closer to the key Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.

The decision comes despite sharp objections from Turkey.

While Washington considers the Kurds, known as the YPG, to have most effectively fought IS in northern and eastern Syria, Turkey considers them an extension of a banned terrorist group in its territory.

The official wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the decision and demanded anonymity.

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