World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey and the U.S. agreed to work on a plan to seize and hold the Syrian city of Raqqah, the so-called capital of the ISIL terrorist group, the Pentagon reported Monday.
The Pentagon has yet to release details but the Defense Department News quoted Gen. Joseph Dunford as saying, “The coalition and Turkey will work together on the long-term plan for seizing, holding and governing Raqqah”. The Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman made the comment Sunday following a meeting in Ankara with Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar.
The generals met to coordinate operational planning in different areas, including Raqqah, Mosul, Iraq, and others, according to the Pentagon.
“Obviously as a close ally, we really just want to make sure that we’re completely tight as we work through some challenging issues,” Dunford said.
Over the weekend, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched an operation to isolate the city, but the group has been a concern for Turkey because the terrorist PKK/PYD and its military wing, the YPG, lead it, although the U.S. claims that it is multiethnic.
U.S. military leadership has said the SDF would play a role in isolating the city rather than hold it.
“We always knew the SDF wasn’t the solution for holding and governing Raqqah,” Dunford said. “What we are working on right now is to find the right mix of forces for the operation.”
Turkey has proposed having local Arabs enter and hold the city.
Dunford also acknowledged that “a predominantly Arab and Sunni Arab force” is needed for the operation.
“And there are forces like that. There is the moderate Syrian opposition, the vetted Syrian forces and the Free Syrian Army forces, and there is some initial outreach to forces in Raqqah proper,” he added.