Turkey says Syrian rebels could replace Kurdish forces in battle for Raqqa


Turkish army forces (R), and Kurdish YPG-SDF fighters (L). Photo: Jinda Ibrahim/ARA News

ARA News

Qamishli – Turkey reiterated on Thursday its opposition to any participation by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the looming battle for Raqqa.

After a meeting with NATO members in Brussels, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik told reporters that his country wouldn’t allow pro-Kurdish forces to join the Raqqa operation. 

“Turkey’s position on this matter is very clear.” Isik said. “We are able to find partners from the Syrian armed opposition to replace [the Kurds].”

The Turkish Defense Minister added that his country has grown impatient, waiting for the United States to force the SDF to withdraw from Manbij city.

US Secretary for Defence Ashton Carter said earlier on Wednesday that the battle for Raqqa city will begin within weeks. Syrian Kurdish authorities confirmed on Wednesday that they had been asked to participate in the operation and were ready to isolate the Islamic State’s (ISIS) capital.

Aldar Xelil, a board member of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), also confirmed that that the Kurdish YPG and allied SDF were prepared for the Raqqa operation.

However, the TEV-DEM politician said that there was a condition – Kurdish troops will only take part in the operation if Turkey is kept out of it. Xelil said: “If Turkey doesn’t join then we will participate. We are ready to save the people of Syria.”

Reporting by: Abdulhelim Can and Sadreddin Kino | Source: ARA News

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