Raqqah offensive must begin after Mosul operation - Turkey

Turkish armed forces are engaged in ongoing anti-Daesh operations in Iraq's Mosul and along the Turkey-Syria border.

Photo by: AP (Archive)
Photo by: AP (Archive)

The Syrian city of Raqqah has been under Daesh control since 2013.

Turkey wants the offensive on Raqqah, Daesh's headquarters in Syria, to start after the Mosul and Euphrates Shield operations are finished, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday.

Turkish armed forces are engaged in ongoing anti-Daesh operations in Iraq's Mosul and Operation Euphrates Shield, which began in early August along the Turkey-Syrian border region.

Kurtulmus told reporters in Ankara, "Turkey's stance on the Raqqah operation is clear. It would be better both militarily and strategically to conduct this operation after the Mosul operation and Turkey's Euphrates Shield operation are completed."

Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga forces started the offensive on Iraq’s Mosul with air and ground support from the US-led coalition on October 17.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said that Washington expects the Raqqah offensive to overlap with the Mosul operation.

Commanders had warned earlier that the Mosul offensive could take weeks and possibly months. (AP)

Last week the US commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, said there is an urgent need to isolate Raqqah due to concerns about the group using the city as a base to plan and launch attacks against targets abroad.

“We continue to talk on a regular basis with the Turkish leadership about the best approach to addressing the fight for Raqqah,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters on Monday.

But It is important to continue to put pressure on Daesh in Raqqah, he added.

US and Turkish plans regarding the anti-Daesh operation also differ over the participation of the YPG militant group. 

The US regards the YPG as an ally in its fight against Daesh and wants the group to take part in the Raqqah offensive. But Turkey is against YPG's participation because it considers the group an associate of the PKK terrorist group.

In mid-August, Turkish Armed Forces launched Operation Euphrates Shield to secure the Turkish town of Karkamis from Daesh presence in the adjoining Syrian town of Jarabulus, which was cleared in the operation soon after. (AA) 

Turkey is also taking part in the offensive because of its concerns that the PKK could use northern parts of Iraq, including Mosul and Sinjar as bases to launch attacks on Turkish soil.

A force commander said advancing troops broke through Daesh defence lines in an eastern suburb of Mosul on Monday, taking the battle for the group’s stronghold to inside the city limits for the first time.


TRTWorld and agencies