Turkey: On second thought, we won't bomb U.S. allies advancing on Raqqa

Nick Mcbride
May 21, 2017

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces advanced on Raqqa in a multi-pronged offensive, with backing from the US-led coalition, bringing them within four kilometres of the city to the north-east and within about six kilometres to the north.

The Kurdish-led forces said Friday they expect to advance on Raqqa this summer, following their capture of a strategic town and dam, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the city.

An SDF commander, identified only as Abdelqader, declined to specify dates at a news conference, citing tactical reasons.

While the USA -led coalition has already supplied weapons to Arab fighters in the SDF, the White House this week authorized for the first time arming its most powerful element - the Kurdish YPG - to help in the Raqqa assault, infuriating Turkey.

Meanwhile, Kurdish analyst Mutlu Chiviroglu said the US considers Turkey's arguments unconvincing, as there is no real threat to Ankara from the Kurdish militia.

"In this sense, we underline that Daesh is as risky a terrorist organisation as the PKK and PYD", he said, adding that if the U.S. and other Turkish allies were in search of regional peace, they should not be cooperating with terrorist organisations.

As for the second issue - the cancellation of Trump's decision to supply heavy weapons to the Syrian Kurds, I think Erdogan can take the initiative and make a "knight's move" of inviting Trump to capture the capital of ISIS as a result of a large-scale operation by the Turkish army.

The decision came just days before the SDF pushed ISIS out of the strategically significant town of Tabqa, positioning themselves to begin the assault on the militants' Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

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Partnered forces in Syria have liberated the Syrian city of Tabqa, a key development in the eventual defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Raqqa, Syria, the Pentagon's director of press operations said today. It is loosely aligned with the PKK, or Kurdistan Worker's Party, in Turkey, and has carved out an autonomous region in northern Syria which the Kurds call Rojava. Fed up with what he saw as the Obama administration's wishy-washy Syria policy, its unwise alliance with Kurdish "terrorists" and its failure to understand the need for some of his authoritarian policies, Erdogan envisioned a new dawn in U.S. The security analyst, former Turkish diplomat Aydin Selgen, believes Ankara is able to unilaterally take actions to protect its own interests if a threat to national security from Syria and Iraq becomes possible.

But the meeting will take place with a White House still responding to what a senior USA official said was disclosure of classified information about an Islamic State terror threat involving laptop computers on aircraft.

In the statement Thursday, the global coalition said with the capture of Tabqa, the SDF has further isolated Raqqa and "will continue to pursue the military defeat" of IS throughout Syria.

Turkish officials repeatedly spoke of a "new page" in relations after the bickering under Obama but the Trump administration's announcement that the United States would arm the Syrian Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) cast a heavy shadow over such optimism. The arms provided the YPG have a very good chance of being used to support the PKK against the government of Turkey unless the United States can find a way to prevent it. He also said that once it starts it will not be publicly acknowledged by the U.S.

More important, it's the only way the US-led anti-ISIS coalition has a prayer of taking Raqqa.

Meanwhile, more than 1,200 residents and opposition fighters trapped in the Syrian capital Damascus left their neighbourhoods for rebel-held Idlib province on Friday as part of a deal to return the last neighbourhoods of the capital to government control.

More than 320 000 people have been killed and millions more displaced since the conflict in Syria broke out in March 2011.

Other reports by VgToday

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