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    Syrian Democratic Forces(SDF) fighters stand with their weapons north of Raqqa city, Syria March 8, 2017

    Assad Open to Anti-Terror Cooperation With Any State on Raqqa Liberation

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    Operation to Liberate Raqqa From Daesh (61)

    Damascus is ready to cooperate on liberation of the city of Raqqa from terrorists with any country including in the West that are willing to fight against terrorism, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Sputnik.

    DAMASCUS (Sputnik) — Speaking about the possibility of participation of Russian and Kurdish forces, Assad noted that Damascus had always been in contact with "different factions in Syria who are fighting the terrorists, and we had direct contact with the Kurds, and of course with the Russians regarding this."

    "Regarding fighting terrorism, we always announce that we are ready to cooperate with any country who is genuinely ready or wants or has the will to fight terrorism. We didn't even define which countries; any country including the West, taking into consideration that we already know that the West supports the terrorists and it doesn't have a will to fight them. But we said whoever is ready, we are ready," Assad said.

    The Syrian government forces' advance toward the city of Raqqa was slowed down following a terrorist offensive in the Hama province, but it was not completely stopped, the Syrian president told Sputnik.

    In March, terrorists attempted to launch a major offensive in the Hama province from Idlib in the north.

    "Because of that attack on Hama we had to slow down our attack — not stop it, to slow down — because part of the troops, Syrian Arab Army troops, in both directions have to come south and west to Hama in order to defend the city, and of course they repelled the attack and they succeeded, but at the expense of advancing in different areas," Assad said.

    Assad noted that one month ago, the Syrian army was moving toward Raqqa and was close to reaching the city.

    "And this is when the terrorists launched their attack against the middle of Syria, against the city of Hama, in order to protect ISIS [Daesh] in two areas," the Syrian president said, adding that it was done to "slow the advance of the Syrian Army."

    He also pointed out links between the Jabhat Fatah al Sham terrorist organization (formerly known as al-Nusra Front and banned in Russia), Daesh and the West through Turkey.

    "And of course Turkey means the United States, and the United States means France and the UK, and both mean Saudi Arabia, and so on. So, this is one choir actually, and they have one army, one proxy army, which is different factions, mainly al-Qaeda, mainly al-Nusra [Front] and ISIS [Daesh]," Assad said.

    In November 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which mainly consist of Kurdish fighters but also include members of the Syrian Arab Coalition, launched the Operation Euphrates Rage to retake Raqqa from Daesh with the support of the US-led international coalition.

    On April 14, the SDF announced the start of the fourth stage of the campaign, aiming to clear rural areas of the Raqqa province of terrorists in preparation for the final liberation of the territory. The same day, Syrian president's adviser Bouthaina Shaaban confirmed that the Syrian government forces would continue to advance against Daesh in the direction of Raqqa.

    Daesh seized control of Raqqa from the Syrian government in January 2014.

    Operation to Liberate Raqqa From Daesh (61)


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