Turkey will target Raqqa after completing the operation in al-Bab in northern Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday. Raqqa is the de facto capital of Daesh.
Cavusoglu's announcement came during a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir at the Marriott Hotel after chairing a two-day Turkish-Saudi Coordination Council meeting in Ankara, the capital of Turkey.
TRT World's Hasan Abdullah reports.
“The next target is Raqqa. The operation in Raqqa must be carried out with the right groups,” Cavusoglu said, ruling out the possibility of working with "terrorist groups," apparently referring to the YPG.
YPG is a Kurdish group which Turkey says is aligned with PKK, a designated terrorist organisation, fighting Daesh in Syria. Turkey considers the PYD, the political affiliate of the YPG, to be the Syrian extension of the PKK. Both the US and Turkey consider the PKK a terrorist group, but the US administration rejects the notion that PYD has any connection with the PKK.
“As regional and coalition member countries, we can send our special forces there. We have to do that,” he added.
Cavusoglu said the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Turkish special forces made important progress in their joint battle against Daesh in northern Syria.
Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield in August 2016 to eliminate threats on the Turkish border and support opposition forces in Syria.
"Our special forces and the Syrian rebels have made progress...Coalition forces and Russia have given a boost to our operation with air support. The operation in al-Bab must be completed as soon as possible.”
Speaking after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Tuesday night call with US President Donald Trump, Cavusoglu accused the US of using the PKK/PYD as a “reliable partner” in its fight against Daesh on the ground, warning that it would pose a danger for the future of Syria.
His counterpart al-Jubeir raised concern about Iran saying its meddling in regional issues must be stopped and urged Turkey to work together with Saudi Arabia on the threat.