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Syria: Ankara Announces Full Control over al-Bab City | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Numan Kurtulmus talks to foreign media in Ankara. Reuters

Ankara- Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the international community should support the local population in Raqqah once the Syrian city is cleared of ISIS terrorists.

Speaking after a meeting of the Council of Ministers in Ankara on Monday, Kurtulmus shared Turkey’s point of view over the joint operation to recapture Raqqah from the ISIS terror group.

He gave the example of Syria’s al-Bab city where the native population was expected to be allowed to settle once it gets cleared of ISIS.

“We can use the same model in Raqqah. International community should support the capable local population in Raqqah, which consists of the local population of the city. Turkey, U.S., and other elements can give logistic support to this city,” he said

He added: “This city should not be left in the hands of other terrorist organizations.”

He also said Turkey’s position on terrorist organizations would never change, no matter what other countries do.

For his part, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Tuesday that the situation in al-Bab is under control, however the operation to clear the city from terrorists is still continuing.

According to Yildirim, Turkey is ready to continue the Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria after the clearing of al-Bab is complete.

The prime minister also noted that the United States had promised Turkey to liberate the city of Manbij from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), however the promise had not been kept.

Ankara considers YPG, the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which is listed as a terror group in Turkey.

In another matter, Iran summoned the Turkish ambassador in Tehran on Monday over comments made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing the Islamic Republic of destabilizing the region.

On Sunday, Cavusoglu told delegates at a security conference in Munich that “Iran wants to turn Syria and Iraq into Shi’ite.”

Cavusoglu also said Turkey was against any sectarianism in the Middle East and called on Iran to stop threatening the region’s stability and security.

Relations between Turkey and Iran have become strained following an exchange of words between the two neighbors; however, Kurtulmus had earlier in the day struck a more conciliatory tone, downplaying any reports of tension.

“Iran and Turkey are friendly nations. There can be differences in views from time to time, but there can’t be animosity because of comments,” he told reporters.

“Even if our political differences with Iran emerge, these shouldn’t be blown out of proportion,” he said.