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U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebels Reject Turkish Role In Liberation Of Raqqa


U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters advanced into the Islamic State group's bastion of Manbij, in northern Syria, in June.

U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters advanced into the Islamic State group's bastion of Manbij, in northern Syria, in June.

U.S.-backed Arab and Kurdish forces said on November 3 that they reject Turkish involvement in their planned campaign to drive the Islamic State extremist group out of its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

Turkey wants to join the operation, and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said this week he was talking with Ankara about getting Turkey involved in the final stage of seizing the city.

U.S. officials hope to start a campaign to retake Raqqa within weeks and have said that the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance of Kurdish and Arab armed groups will play the main role in surrounding and isolating the city.

"The Syrian Democratic Forces are the only force that will take part in the operation to liberate Raqqa," SDF spokesman Talal Silo said. "The topic of Turkey's participation was settled with the coalition definitively. No Turkish participation."

But Ankara is dismayed at the prominent role played by the Kurdish YPG militia in the SDF. It says the Kurdish group has ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party, which has waged a three-decade insurgency inside Turkey.

The SDF, in seizing large swathes of territory along the Syria-Turkey border from IS, has recently clashed with Turkish-backed forces operating there, too.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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