21:46 GMT22 October 2020
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    The Turkish leadership has long had its eyes on Raqqa, but it should refrain from trying to take part in the operation aimed at liberating the de facto capital of Daesh's caliphate since Ankara could get bogged down in the war-torn neighboring country much like the United States did in Vietnam, military analyst Erol Mütercimler told Radio Turkey.

    "I think that the issue of Turkey participating in Raqqa's liberation should not have been on the agenda in the first place. The participation in this operation could turn into a Vietnam or an Afghanistan for Turkey. Clearly, Turkish forces will get bogged down in Syria. What will happen when they go so far that they would not be able to turn around? What if they would be cut off from the north?" he asked.

    Erol Mütercimler maintained that some "sensible military commanders" at Turkey's General Staff will try to convince President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters to refrain from taking part in this operation.

    "As far as I know, the Turkish Armed Forces are opposed to this idea," he added.

    The analyst also said that Turkey's decision to advance on Manbij, a Syrian city administered by the Syrian Democratic Forces, is a strategic mistake.

    "Turkey's deployment to al-Bab as part of Operation Euphrates Shield and a military operation in Manbij differ greatly when it comes to territorial security. Turkey's military presence in al-Bab was a sound step for Ankara. Choosing Manbij as the next target is an erroneous and strategically disastrous decision," he said, adding that the international community could perceive the operation in Manbij as "imperialistic occupation."

    Turkish authorities have repeatedly named Manbij and Raqqa as priority targets after al-Bab. However, on Monday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that "it makes no sense to launch an operation in Manbij without the cooperation of Russia and the United States."

    Manbij was under Daesh's control from January 2014 until August 2016 when the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up largely from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), pushed the brutal group out of the city following a two-month-long offensive. The SDF then established the Manbij Military Council to provide security to, and administer, the embattled city.  

    Ankara maintains that the YPG is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), viewed as a terrorist organization in Turkey. However, the United States has considered the Kurds both in Iraq and Syria to be the best fighting force against Daesh.

    Last week, the Manbij Military Council released a statement, saying that several settlements to the west of the city were handed over to the Syrian Arab Army to create a buffer zone between the Kurds and the Turkish military. The deal was brokered through Russia.

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    Syrian Kurds, military operation in Syria, Operation Euphrates Shield, Binali Yildirim, al-Bab, Manbij, Turkey, Syria
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