U.S. needs clarity on plan for Raqqa offensive, Ankara says

Ankara has criticized the U.S. government for not having a clear plan for the operation that will be launched in the Daesh-held Syrian town of Raqqa, and added that Turkey will not allow the formation of a canton government controlled by the PKK terror group’s Syria affiliate PYD/YPG in northern Syria.

“There still is not any set Raqqa plan. Turkey does not have any problem with the Kurds, Turkey’s combat is against the terror groups. We know how the PYD/YPG was established. Those who claim the YPG/PYD is different from PKK, very well knows that it is not true,” Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said, criticizing the U.S. for not having a clear plan for the Raqqa offensive.

“It is evident and clear what kind of combat must be done in Manbij and Raqqa, and who should control the areas after the operations. Our discussions on the matter, however, are still continuing.

We are in combat against Daesh with all ally countries. We are ready to cooperate with the appropriate groups in order to eliminate Daesh from the region. We have the power to take all necessary measures in Manbij or the near region, against any activity that may be a threat to our security,” he added.

The former Obama administration’s strong backing of the YPG soured Turkish-U.S. relations and the U.S. continues to express support for the terrorist group. The U.S. considers the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG, to be effective forces in the fight against Daesh in Syria while Turkey, a NATO ally, argues that Washington has joined forces with a terrorist group.

Ankara argues that the army’s support to the SDF/PYD ultimately benefits the PKK terror group, which has been in conflict with Turkey for more than three decades and has caused the loss of more than 40,000 lives.

Similarly, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu emphasized Thursday that the U.S. has been ambiguous on Raqqa offensive.

“The U.S. is confused [about the Raqqa offensive]. There are different opinions. There are those who want to continue the previous administration’s route. There are those who say the YPG should join the offensive and then pull out. We as Turkey have told them many times that the YPG does not pull out from where it goes with many examples. If it goes there [Raqqa] it will stay. And if that happens it will be a great risk for Syria,” he added during an event in Germany.

The YPG, which is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK terrorist group, has also taken a hostile approach toward Turkey since its inception. The terrorist group has attacked Turkish troops in Syria and YPG-trained militants have carried out attacks in Turkey in the past.

“Obama, Kerry and the U.S. soldiers had promised that the YPG would pull from Manbij. We established joint commissions; they even tried to hide them [the YPG] there. However, our friends exposed the YPG presence there. The U.S. did not keep its promise. The first priority for us is the clearance of the YPG, it attempts to establish a terror canton,” the foreign minister said, adding that Syria’s territorial integrity is important to Turkey.

He also said that the YPG does not have the problem of Daesh, and that they attempt to hold more territorial grounds in Syria, which is the reason behind their desire to join the Raqqa offensive.

“We said it from the beginning, we will not allow a the YPG’s dreams to come to realization.”