February 15, 2018 / 1:30 PM / 2 years ago

Tillerson says U.S. never gave 'heavy arms' to Syrian Kurdish YPG

FILE PHOTO - A Kurdish fighter from the People's Protection Units (YPG) fires heavy machine-gun at Islamic State militants in Raqqa, Syria June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

BEIRUT (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday the United States had “never given heavy arms” to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and there was therefore “nothing to take back”.

The YPG is the main component of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces alliance that has seized vast territory from Islamic State in Syria.

Washington is focused on defeating IS in Syria. Ankara wants to prevent Syria’s Kurds from gaining autonomy and fuelling Kurdish insurgents on its soil and last month launched a military incursion into the Afrin region of Syria to sweep the YPG from its southern border zone.

Tillerson also said the United States has had “fruitful meetings” with Europeans on the Iran nuclear deal, but said work on this issue was not yet over.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington; editing by John Stonestreet

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