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Much to Turkey's Dismay: US Expects Syrian Kurds to Join Raqqa Liberation

© REUTERS / Rodi SaidA Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter rests with his weapon on a vehicle camouflaged with mud, north of Raqqa city, Syria November 7, 2016
A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter rests with his weapon on a vehicle camouflaged with mud, north of Raqqa city, Syria November 7, 2016 - Sputnik International
Syrian Kurds are likely to participate in the liberation of Raqqa, according to the chief of the US-led coalition against Daesh. Apparently, Turkey will not be happy.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Local Kurds will participate in the operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Daesh, Operation Inherent Resolve commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said in a briefing on Wednesday.

"I expect Kurds will participate in the operation in one form or fashion," Townsend told reporters. "They are local Kurds who will participate…These are Syrians."

Earlier in the day, Turkish media reported that Ankara could forbid Washington from using its Incirlik airbase if the United States cooperates with the Kurdish forces, such as the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Popular Defense Units (YPG), during operations against Daesh in the area of Raqqa.

"We are engaged in discussions with Turks on how they might participate in the liberation of Raqqa, and I don’t know what the numbers of their participation might be," Townsend said.

Syrian army tanks are positioned on the eastern outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on February 17, 2017 - Sputnik International
Road to Nowhere: Syrian Army Blocks Turkey's Assault on Raqqa
The city of Raqqa, which is the "capital" of the so-called caliphate proclaimed by Daesh, is a target for numerous groups fighting against extremists in Syria. Turkey and the Kurdish troops have voiced their plans to liberate the Daesh-occupied city.

Since 2011, Syria has been engulfed in a civil war, with government forces fighting against numerous opposition and terrorist groups, including al-Nusra Front and Daesh, banned in a range of countries, including Russia.

On February 16, Syrian National Council Co-chair Ilham Ehmed said in an interview with Firat News Agency that the safe zones proposed by the Trump administration would be created in areas under control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces, one carrying a Turkish flag, patrol in Dabiq, Syria (File) - Sputnik International
Turkish Army Might Get Bogged Down Liberating Raqqa From Jihadists
Turkish chief presidential adviser Ilnur Cevik told Sputnik on Tuesday that Ankara would be against the creation of safe zones in Kurdish areas in Syria because they might be used by Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organization in Turkey.

Tensions between Ankara and the Kurds escalated in July 2015 when a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) collapsed because of a series of terror attacks allegedly committed by PKK members.

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