Turkey: Kurds Mustn’t Play Major Role in Invading Raqqa

Won't Allow Kurds to Extend Their Territory in ISIS Battle

by Jason Ditz, September 08, 2016

Turkey is seeking discussions with the Obama Administration on a joint military operation against the de facto ISIS capital city of Raqqa, with the primary goal of the discussions being to ensure that Kurdish forces don’t play a significant role in the operation.

That’s a tall order, as the US has very few troops in Syria, and they are all embedded with the Kurdish YPG, aiding their military offensives. Raqqa was expected to be targeted eventually, but Turkey says they mustn’t allow the YPG to spearhead the operation, saying they won’t allow them to gain power by taking Raqqa for themselves.

The US has insisted that the YPG will keep its forces east of the Euphrates River, though Turkey maintains Kurdish forces remain on the western shore already. Either way, Raqqa is well east of the river, and the US assumption seems to have always been that Kurds would lead the attack.

It’s not clear what the Turkish alternative boils down to, short of letting ISIS retain Raqqa in the near-term. Turkey’s own rebel allies are already spread out over a substantial stretch of occupied territory, and it’s doubtful Turkey is going to be willing to conduct the ground invasion primarily on their own, even if it’s obvious they’d prefer no operation to a Kurdish one.

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