15:03 GMT31 May 2020
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    Ankara’s plans for the operation to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqa from Daesh terrorists remain unclear, Operation Inherent Resolve Commanding General Stephen Townsend said Wednesday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The commander explained that Turkey has expressed a desire to take part in the Raqqa operation, but could not participate in the isolation phase of the campaign due to other counter-Daesh commitments.

    "I don’t really have a good sense for what they [Turkey] want to do," Townsend told reporters when asked about the role Ankara wants to play.

    The coalition will "check back" with Ankara after the isolation part of the operation is over to see if its forces can be incorporated in the further offensive, he added.

    Townsend noted, however, that Turkey has a preferred partner force on the ground who it will likely want to participate. The country can also send its own forces to enhance the offensive, the commander added.

    Turkey has previously stated it wants to create some 20 to 40 kilometers buffer zone on the border with Syria.

    Townsend said Turkish forces are unlikely to extend the zone much farther south beyond the Syrian city of al-Bab.

    Al-Bab is the largest municipal area between Aleppo and Raqqa, the commander explained, and must be retaken from the Islamic State.

    "I don’t think they [Turkey] will go much farther south, because you are actually start running into [Syrian] regime elements just a few kilometers south of al-Bab," he concluded.


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    Stephen Townsend, Raqqa, United States, Turkey
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