Mattis says US ready to end Syrian-Kurdish military support
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said arms supplies to Syrian-Kurdish militias will soon be cut, as the battle against the Islamic State group comes to a close.
Mattis told reporters that although no action had yet been taken, the US was considering ending a programme of providing weapons to Kurdish militias in Syria.
Kurdish militia the People's Protection Units (YPG) has been key to the Syrian Democratic Forces’ capture of IS territories in northern Syria, including the group's self-declared "capital", Raqqa.
Yet the US support for the group has led to fractured relations with NATO ally Ankara which has accused the YPG of being akin to the Kurdish militias fighting Turkish security forces.
"The YPG is armed and as the coalition stops offensive (operations) then obviously you don't need that, you need security, you need police forces, that is local forces, that is people who make certain that IS doesn't come back," Mattis said, according to Reuters.
He then confirmed that the US would eventually stop arming the YPG. Washington hopes to recover heavy weaponry supplied to the Kurdish militias but the news agency said light weapons will likely to remain the hands of fighters.
The US has also announced this week that it would be withdrawing artillery and 400 troops from Syria, as IS remains holed up in a small desert territory.
Kurdish movements have not only put them on a collision course with Turkey and Ankara-backed rebel groups, but also the Syrian regime which occupies territories to the south of the so-called Rojava autonomous region.