Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

U.S.-Arab-Turkish Tripartite Preparation for Raqqa Offensive | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55367136

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) speaks with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during a meeting with foreign ministers of the GCC in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on October 13, 2016 (AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

Ankara, Moscow- The United States military Wednesday announced that forces it backs in Syria are expected to soon isolate the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, northeast bank of the Euphrates River.

Cutting off Raqqa will arrange for the seizure of the city later.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Saudi counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir reaffirmed that international anti-ISIS coalition member states can partake in any military action to recapture Raqqa.

“As regional countries, as countries inside the (U.S.-led) coalition, we can put our special forces in, we need to put them in,” Cavusoglu said, referring to any Raqqa offensive.

The top American commander in Iraq believes U.S.-backed forces will recapture ISIS’ two major strongholds – the cities of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq – within the next six months.

The spokesman, Air Force Colonel John Dorrian, confirmed reported remarks by U.S. Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Jubeir, Cavusoglu suggested that once Al-Bab was captured, Turkey and its allies could send special forces to take Raqqa, the de-facto capital for ISIS to the southwest.

“The target after this (Al-Bab) in Syria is the Raqqa operation,” Cavusoglu said alongside his Saudi counterpart in Ankara.

Jubeir said Saudi Arabia was “looking forward to working with Turkey and the Trump administration to intensify the efforts to eradicate ISIS.”

Last August, Ankara launched an ambitious military operation supporting Syrian opposition fighters to clear its border of ISIS and pushing back Syrian Kurdish militia.

Cavusoglu warned against working with the militia to retake the city.

“It is necessary to conduct the Raqqa operation not with terror groups but the right people,” he said.

Turkey opposes giving added weight to the Syrian Democratic Forces, as the Arab-Kurdish coalition is called, regarding it as little more than a front for the Kurdish YPG militant group, which Ankara considers a terror organization.

“We have said for many months the U.S. would be opened to a Turkish role,” Dorrian said.

Turkey already has troops in northern Syria, having launched an offensive in the area in August against ISIS and Kurdish militants.

After a rapid advance, the Turkish army, which was acting in support of Syrian rebel groups, has been embroiled in recent weeks in deadly combat around Al-Bab.