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.
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).
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.