Turkey has presented the United States with two plans for an alleged potential operation to “liberate” the northern Syrian city of Raqqah from Daesh.
Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on Saturday that the Turkish military chief Hulusi Akar had submitted the proposals to American counterpart Joseph Dunford a day earlier.
Turkey began a major military intervention in Syria in August last year, sending tanks and warplanes across the border in a purported mission to fight the Takfiri terror group.
Ankara has, for long, been demanding creation of a buffer zone in the periphery of its border inside Syria, which holds great concentrations of Kurdish forces.
The fighters have seized considerable territory there from Daesh either directly or by contributing to counterterrorism operations.
Turkish leaders, however, consider the Kurds to be associated with the outlawed anti-Ankara Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has been fighting for decades towards creating an independent state for itself in southeastern Turkey.
Underway exclusively in the Kurdish-liberated areas, the Turkish military presence in Syria has been denounced as a masqueraded push against the anti-Daesh Kurdish fighters. Damascus has also spurned the incursion as a breach of its sovereignty.
The Kurdish fighters, whom Ankara links to the PKK, are known as the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). They dominate the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, which also comprises Arab fighters.
The SDF launched a campaign to encircle Raqqah in November. Turkey recently said it had almost captured the nearby city of al-Bab, and was about to approach Manbij, another city in the general geographic whereabouts.
SDF Commander Adnan Abu Amjad has said his fighters would defend Manbij if Turkey tried to lay siege to the city.
“If [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan wants to come to Manbij, it’s his business, but we will defend our city with all the strength we can find. As Syrian people, we’ll resist any interference in our internal affairs,” he said, according to the UPI.
The Turkish plans for Raqqah envision Turkish and US forces either approaching the city via al-Bab or the border town of Tel Abyad. Both courses of action bifurcates the Kurdish turf close to the frontier.