Turkey readies plan to support potential US operations aganist DAESH in Raqqa, Mosul

AHMET TOPAL
ANKARA
Published 08.09.2016 00:00
Updated 08.09.2016 00:48

After Operation Euphrates Shield was successful in backing the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in liberating the city of DAESH on Turkey's southern border, Ankara is now considering to offer its support for a possible operation by coalition forces to liberate the Syrian town of Raqqa and Iraq's Mosul of DAESH terrorists, though the government has indicated stipulations for those participating in the operation. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and European leaders during the G20 summit in China where he pointed out that the U.S.'s attitude on the matter would be definitive.

Turkey would develop and determine its military and diplomatic strategy for a Raqqa operation as well as providing "strategic contributions" for the liberation of Mosul.

Speaking Tuesday to journalists accompanying him on a return flight after the G20 summit, President Erdoğan said that U.S. President Barack Obama communicated his desire to see the two countries cooperate to free Raqqa of DAESH occupation and that Turkey was welcome to embark on such an endeavor, proposing that military officials from both sides discuss the details.

However, Ankara gives "conditional" support to the plan, which is to prevent the terror corridor, the PKK's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD), from being established. Turkey also strongly opposes PYD invasion of Arab-majority regions.

If Turkey's request were accepted, the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) troops would advance to Raqqa through al-Bab. In this ways, opposition forces will control DAESH-held area and the PYD terror corridor aimed at the Mediterranean Sea will be thwarted Turkey also plans to provide logistic air support to coalition forces in this operation. Ankara also requested that Arab elements to be prioritized rather than the PYD's armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey also expressed its concerns about the risk of PKK occupation in Turkmen-populated areas such as the city of Telafer in northern Iraq. The PKK is trying to capture these areas under the guise of "fighting against DAESH." Erdoğan drew attention to this threat and said that the region should be cleansed all kinds of terrorist organizations.

The military operation to Mosul was expected to be carried out between April and May. Since that time, Turkey has trained more than 2,000 fighters in camp Bashiqa, and prepared them for the anti-DAESH operation. The main body of troops for the operation will consist of Arabic and Peshmerga forces. The Turkish Army will both motivate forces on the ground while providing support to the peshmerga. Erdoğan said that Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani asked for their help regarding the issue before.

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