Turkey ready to join U.S. in capturing Raqqah from Daesh: Erdoğan

U.S. President Barack Obama floated the idea of joint action with Turkey to capture the Syrian city of Raqqah from Daesh, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said in remarks published on Wednesday. Ankara would not object, Erdoğan said.

Turkey, which is battling a Kurdish insurgency at home, launched an incursion into northern Syria last month with the stated aims of clearing Daesh from its border and preventing the Kurdish YPG militia expanding into new territory.

Ankara now wants international support for an operation to take control of a rectangle of territory stretching about 40 km into Syria, creating a buffer between two Kurdish-held cantons to the east and west and against Daesh to the south.

Speaking to reporters on his plane back from the G20 summit in China on Monday, Erdoğan said Turkey’s military was ready to join any offensive on Raqqah, Daesh’s de facto capital.

“Obama wants to do some things together concerning Raqqah in particular,” Erdoğan said in comments published by Hurriyet newspaper, following meetings in China with Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders. “We stated that would not be a problem from our perspective. We said, ‘Let our soldiers come together, whatever is necessary will be done’,” Erdoğan said. Any Turkish role would be have to be determined in further talks, he said. “But at this stage we have to show our presence in the region. We do not have the chance to take a backward step. If we take a backward step terror groups like Daesh, PKK, PYD and YPG will settle there,” he said.

Turkish president Erdoğan and US president Obama during a meeting of G20 in Huangzhou, China [4/9/2016]
Turkish president Erdoğan and US president Obama during a meeting of G20 in Huangzhou, China [4/9/2016]
 Source: Reuters/Syria & Iraq News

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