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U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Visits Ankara as Raqqa Operation Commences - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Ankara- Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford held talks with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar in Ankara where he arrived in coincidence with the Syrian Democratic Forces announcing launching a military operation to liberate Raqqa, ISIS stronghold in the north of Syria.

Turkish sources told Asharq al-Awsat that the talks focused on Raqqa operation and the form of Turkish participation in it, following intensive meetings between the two parties in the past few months.

Ankara announced earlier that it will not participate in liberating Raqqa if the Syrian Democratic Forces did. On the other hand, these forces announced that Washington approved the fact that Turkey plays no role in the liberation battle of Raqqa.

The Syrian Democratic Forces has established a new operations room to coordinate the battle for Raqqa and called on civilians there to stay away from ISIS headquarters.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said earlier that Turkey will extend the Euphrates Shield operation to Raqqa and has no problem to conduct the operation by itself if Washington insisted on including People’s Protection Units.

In a statement delivered in Istanbul on Sunday, Erdogan stated that the Democratic Syrian Forces, supported by Turkey, aim at clearing off the Syrian town al-Bab from ISIS. The Turkish president however did not comment over Raqqa operation or even the Democratic Syrian Forces announcement that Turkey will not participate in it.

Euphrates Shield operation commenced in north Syria on 24 August to support the fighters against ISIS and to prevent the Kurdish fighters in the Democratic Syrian Forces from seizing territories near Turkey border with Syria.