‘No one wants to include Turkey in Raqqa operation’

SDF fighters in Raqqa operation

Experienced Turkish journalist Murat Yetkin has penned an article outlining Turkey’s unsuccessful attempt at convincing Russia and the US to include it in the operation to liberate Syria’s Raqqa from the Islamic State (IS), while excluding the Kurdish YPG.

Yetkin says that a meeting in Antalya on 7 March between the top generals of the Turkish, Russian and US armies was organised by Turkey because ‘Turkey was the one that needed to present and gain acceptance for its thesis’.

Turkey’s plan, which was comprehensively leaked to the media beforehand, entailed the US disbanding the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which YPG is a significant component of, discontinue support for the YPG, and to form a new force consisting of the Arab factions within the SDF and Turkish-backed FSA groups who would then conduct the Raqqa operation.

“And then there was the little matter of Manbij, but everyone remembers what happened there,” writes Yetkin.

“Turkish general Hulusi Akar was requesting that the USA and Russia effectively abandon all their preparations to date,” Yetkin claims. “In short, the meeting in Antalya did absolutely nothing in convincing both the USA and Russia to discard of the YPG in the fight against ISIS, and instead move forward with Turkey and Turkish-backed opposition forces.”

So, is there any sort of a response from Russia or the USA to any of the points discussed in Antalya?” Yetkin asks. “According to one of the sources I spoke to yesterday, ‘unfortunatley, the meeting did not make a positive impact on the situation. Under the current circumstances, the chances of us going to Raqqa is very low’”.

“Although not official yet, information from diplomatic circles seem to show that other than Turkey’s own plan, none of the other plans include Turkey in the operation to take Raqqa from ISIS,” Yetkin concludes.