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Ankara Hints to Washington: Cooperation with Moscow in Raqqa | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) talking with journalists in the presidential plane during his return from the ECO summit in Pakistan. (Anadolu Agency)

Paris, Ankara – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was ready to join hands with Russia in its fight against ISIS in Syria, a position that experts consider a proposal from Ankara to assist in the expected military operation in Raqqa, if Moscow wants to.

“If we agree on a common ground with the coalition forces, particularly with the US, we can act jointly in the Raqqa operation,” Erdogan said on his way home from Pakistan.

The Turkish president said he was ready to visit Russia on March 9. He added that Turkey’s next target following al-Bab would be the northern city of Manbij.

For his part, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday his country would attack the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Manbij, northern Syria, unless the group withdraws.

“We do not wish any of our allies to stand with terrorist groups. We stated earlier that Turkey will hit the People’s Protection Units (YPG) unless they withdraw from Manbij.”

Cavusoglu also considered that the participation of the YPG in the attack on Raqqa would “threaten the future of Syria.”

The Turkish comments came as the YPG-controlled Manbij Council announced an agreement with the Russian side to hand over villages near al-Bab area to guards linked to the Syrian regime.

In Geneva, the curtains will descend Friday on the fourth round of the intra-Syrian talks without introducing any breach, particularly in the presence of conflicting Russian positions.

The talks on Thursday witnessed a surprising verbal attack launched by Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova against the High Negotiations Committee (HNC).

Zakharova said the Syrian opposition’s readiness to reach agreements at the Geneva talks is questionable, despite a meeting held on Wednesday night between the HNC delegation and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, who had praised the opposition.

Spokesman for the Syrian opposition Yahya al-Aridi said Zakharova could have launched its verbal attack because Moscow wants to create a certain balance after Gatilov exerted pressure on the Syrian regime delegation to accept discussing a “political transition” in the war-torn country.