Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim came together with journalists in Germany on the last day of the 53rd Munich Security Conference.
The prime minister told the journalists that, “whatever our fighting style is in al-Bab it will be the same in Raqqa. We already have soldiers on the ground who are supporting the Free Syrian Army. They will probably support the [Raqqa] operation. We are opening a new page with the US administration. They’re calling it a ‘new day’.”
Turkey has been awaiting a response from the US regarding its proposal of two separate plans to take the Islamic State (IS) stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria.
Yesterday Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik met with US counterpart James Mattis in Brussels. “We talked about this with Mattis,” Isik said, “but he told us that they have no other plan other than the current one with the YPG [People’s Protection Units].” According to Isik, Mattis told him, “We already have an A plan, you can come up with a plan B,”.
On a question about what Turkey would do if the US insisted on the YPG for the Raqqa operation, prime minister yildirim said, “I don’t have that impression. They are evaluating the situation; we need to wait for the result. Our intentions are clear. Manbij must be cleared of all PYD [Syrian Kurdish Democratic Unity Party] elements. The US promised this but is yet to keep its promise.”
Meanwhile, organisations following the war in Syria have published maps showing the Syrian Democratic Forces, which the YPG is a significant part of, from being only four kilometres from urban Raqqa.