Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has made a statement about Turkey’s operation in Syria, at a meeting about the war-torn country in the UK capital London.
“If we want to completely clean Syria of ISIS, the operations in both Mosul and Raqqa are very important,” he said at the meeting of national representatives, which was aimed at finding a political solution to the war.
“If there is no ground operation…”
Besides Raqqa, which is considered ISIS’s capital in Syria, the group also control’s Mosul in Iraq. Çavuşoğlu’s statement stressed the importance of tackling both.
“Raqqa is ISIS’s base in Syria. As long as we don’t cleanse Raqqa of ISIS, the group will continue to exist in Syria, and even in Iraq, because they are coming and going between the two. They are porous.
“Unfortunately such a thing as a border no longer exists, and they will continue to exist there. Therefore if we want to completely cleanse Syria of Daesh, operations in Mosul and Raqqa are very important. We have been saying this from the start.
“If we do not support local land forces and if there is no land operation it will not be possible to destroy Daesh. It will not even be possible to stop them.
“If you look at what we said in either public or in the press, this is there among all the statements at the International Syria Support Group that was created to combat DAESH.
“Turkey cannot do it alone”
“But this is not something that Turkey can do alone. Nor is it right to wait for Turkey to do it alone.
“It is extremely natural that we support the Free Syrian Army and local forces which are fighting against the threat on the other side of our border. But we must plan the operations in Raqqa and elsewhere, and everyone must contribute.
“The provision of training and equipment of local forces and special forces — not just our own — is needed from different countries. Guidance is needed.
“Our esteemed president has brought up this subject with several leaders including [US President Barack] Obama.
“Security units — including basic intelligence — need to debate this thoroughly. And there needs to be a well-prepared, result-oriented plan and strategy.”
According to the written statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Çavuşoğlu participated in the Syria meeting, which was hosted by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
At the meeting, the coordinator of the Syrian opposition Supreme Negotiations Committee, Farid Hijab, explained his ideas regarding the political transition in Syria. Besides Turkey, France, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Germany, Jordan and Italy were also invited.
Raqqa, or Al-Raqqa, is located in northern Syria on the Euphrates River. It is 160km away from Aleppo in the northwest.
In 2013, it fell under ISIS control, and has been the group’s de facto capital ever since.
The population living under ISIS’s administration has fallen from 1 million to 400,000. (AS/PS)