No military plan for Raqqa yet: Presidential Spokesperson Kalın

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Turkey does not currently have a military plan for an assault on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group’s stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has said.

“What will Turkey’s answer be if the U.S. says to Turkey: ‘The PYD [the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party] will also enter Raqqa; you come too and let’s fight against ISIL together?’ We exhibited the same attitude before. We supported the cleaning of Manbij from Daesh [ISIL]. We did not join their operations but principally we said that we supported it. We had one stance which was that the PYD would not enter and stay there. The same thing also applies to Raqqa. Currently, we do not have military planning regarding Raqqa,” Kalın said in an interview with daily Habertürk, adding that Ankara was cooperating with the international coalition in the anti-ISIL fight.

However, Kalın noted there would be a broader and more cautious plan for Al Bab, another ISIL stronghold, before Raqqa.

“The method that will be followed in Al Bab and other operations is obvious. There is a certain ISIL concentration there and they have reached a certain number. Therefore, a broader and cautious plan will be realized,” he said, while noting that the date for an operation was not clear yet, as work on operational details has been ongoing.

On his way back from the G-20 Summit in China on Sept. 7, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had stated that Ankara and Washington were discussing military action on Raqqa.

“Raqqa is an important center for Daesh,” Erdoğan said. “[U.S. President Barack] Obama particularly wants to do something together [with us] about Raqqa. We have told him that this is not a problem for us,” he said.

“This is an issue that we have been discussing with the United States. What can be done there will become more concrete after more talks,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey launched a joint military operation with the U.S.-led coalition along its border inside Syria on Aug. 24 to rid the areas close to the border of ISIL and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey sees as a terror organization.

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