A US-backed alliance of Syrian Kurds and Arabs will lead the assault on Daesh’s stronghold of Raqqa, but rejects any Turkish role in the offensive, its spokesman said yesterday.
“We will see a campaign led by the Syrian Democratic Forces to liberate Raqqa city,” Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Talal Sello said.
“The topic of Turkey’s participation was settled with the [US-led anti-Daesh] coalition definitively. No Turkish participation,” he said.
His comments contradict remarks made by US Colonel John Dorrian yesterday. In a press briefing by US Department of Defence, Dorrian said that Turkey has already liberated approximately 50 villages in Syria further isolating pockets of Daesh’s presence, including Raqqa.
The colonel added: “Turkey and their partner forces conducted ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’, liberating Jarablus and a number of villages along the border. Those operations built a significant buffer along Syria’s northern border, making it much more difficult for Daesh to infiltrate across the border into Europe,”
Raqqa will be the last major city under the jihadists’ control if forces in neighbouring Iraq win the battle now under way for Mosul.
The United States and Britain said in late October they expected an assault on Raqqa – Daesh’s de facto capital in Syria – within weeks.