Turkey Warns US: ‘Wrong Groups’ Mustn’t Enter ISIS Capital of Raqqa

Suggests Kurds Can Siege But Not Occupy City

by Jason Ditz, November 08, 2016

While the US rejected Turkey’s long-standing demands that Kurdish YPG forces not be involved in the fighting over the ISIS capital of Raqqa, Turkish officials and Kurdish officials continue to trade barbs over the matter, with both trying to limit the potential involvement of the other.

Turkey seems resigned to the YPG participating in the operation to encircle Raqqa, but Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has warned the US against allowing the “wrong groups,” presumed to mean the Kurds, to enter the city itself, meaning in effect they expect the Kurds to stay out.

That doesn’t appear realistic, however, as the US has noted the Kurdish forces are materially the only forces available to attack Raqqa, and they’re not going to be able to occupy the city without entering it. The US has small numbers of troops embedded with the Kurds around Raqqa, but insists they remain merely “advisers.”

The YPG-dominated umbrella group, the Syrian Democratic Forces, dismissed Turkey’s comments, insisting they are in a better position than Turkey to decide who is needed to invade Raqqa. Though Turkish-backed forces are generally not in the area around Raqqa, Turkey has conducted airstrikes against YPG forces during anti-ISIS offensives in the past, and could quickly derail the Raqqa invasion.

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