Turkey, US talk Raqqa, Mosul to vanquish ISIL
AA photoTurkey and the United States have discussed operations regarding Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) strongholds in Raqqa and Mosul in order to defeat the jihadist group, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.
“If we want to cleanse Syria and Iraq of Daesh [ISIL], it is important that we mount operations both in Mosul and in Raqqa,” he said Sept. 7.
“We have always said that if we do not support local forces on the ground, if there is no land operation, it will not be possible to eliminate or even stop Daesh exclusively from the air,” Çavuşoğlu said following a meeting in London with the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which represents Syrian opposition groups.
But the foreign minister said a ground operation could not be backed by Turkey alone and any operation against Raqqa must be carefully planned.
“It is not just us but other countries that must train and equip local forces, that must contribute and give direction,” he said.
Pentagon said Sept. 8 in a written statement that U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık talked about the importance of retaking Raqqa during a bilateral meeting at the U.N. Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial in London.
“The two [Carter and Işık] also discussed the importance of retaking Raqqa, and the need for local forces to play a central role. Both agreed to maintain frequent communication on the full range of mutual interests,” the statement on Sept. 8 read.
Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield along its border inside Syria on Aug. 24 to rid the areas close to the border from ISIL and Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey sees as a terror organization – something that has caused a rift between Turkey and the U.S.
Earlier in the day, Carter told BBC Radio in an interview that the U.S. and Turkey “certainly have joint action.”
“Right now we are working with Turkey to help it secure the last remaining part of the border between Turkey and Syria on both sides of the border, which has been one of the avenues, the arteries through which ISIL has supplied itself with foreign fighters, with equipment and so forth, and we are working with Turkey in that respect.”
Carter said the U.S. was also working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is made up of forces including the YPG.
“At the same time, we’re working with the Syrian Democratic Forces on a plan to envelop and [destroy] ISIL’s control of Raqqa,” Carter said.
“We have worked with that group also in Manbij city, which was an important city, and we intend to work with both of these parties. They have their differences with one another; we understand that,” Carter said.
Meanwhile, the commander of Turkey’s gendarmerie forces, Yaşar Güler, said a joint operation with the U.S. on Raqqa “should be evaluated carefully.”
Çavuşoğlu said Sept. 8 during a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adil al-Jubeir that the Manbij area “should be cleared of terrorists,” the minister also said, adding that Turkey would continue supporting the operation.
He said chaos in Syria would continue if al-Assad remains in power in the transition process, because he is responsible of “killing of 600,000 Syrians. Even yesterday he used chlorine gas.”