Turkey’s president has claimed that Ankara is willing to join a battle for the liberation of the Syrian city of Raqqah from the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
“Turkey wants to join … in a military operation to push IS [an alternative name for Daesh] from its Syrian stronghold of Raqqah, as long as it excludes Kurdish rebel forces,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted by private broadcaster NTV as saying on Sunday.
Erdogan said, “Our foreign minister and military authorities are in talks with the United States discussing the matter of Raqqah.”
Earlier on Friday, Erdogan had addressed US officials, saying, “If you think you can finish off Daesh with the YPG and PYD, you cannot, because they are terrorist groups too.”
Turkey regards the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as terrorist forces allied with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region on Turkish soil for more than three decades.
Turkey has been hitting Kurdish positions in northern Syria in the recent past without getting the permission of the government in Damascus, and has also been pounding Kurds in Iraq, which considers Turkey’s military operations as violation of its sovereignty.
Syria has been the scene of a foreign-backed crisis since March 2011. Turkey is said to be among the main supporters of the militant groups active in Syria, with reports saying that Ankara actively trains and arms the Takfiri elements there and facilitates their safe passage into the conflict-ridden country.
The Turkish military started a campaign into the Syrian territory last month with the alleged goal of fighting Daesh and containing Kurdish militants. The operation has been faced with criticism, with critics saying that Ankara is busier fighting Kurds than the Daesh Takfiri militants.