Turkey, Syr­ian Kurds at loggerheads over Raqqa

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

Turkey said Tues­day that the U.S.backed and Kur­dish-led forces lead­ing an as­sault on the Is­lamic State strong­hold of Raqqa should not en­ter the city it­self but merely help en­cir­cle it, a sug­ges­tion dis­missed by the Kurds.

The dis­pute be­tween the two U.S. al­lies threat­ens to com­pli­cate ef­forts to drive IS out of Raqqa, the de facto cap­i­tal of the ex­trem­ist group’s self­de­scribed caliphate.

The U.S.-backed Syria Demo­cratic Forces, which in­clude Kur­dish, Arab and Turk­men fight­ers, have driven IS from large swaths of ter­ri­tory, but Turkey views the Syr­ian Kurds who dom­i­nate the group as an ex­ten­sion of the Kur­dish in­sur­gency rag­ing in its south­east. Turkey has sent its own forces across the bor­der to back Syr­ian op­po­si­tion fight­ers and has sug­gested they lead the of­fen­sive to re­take Raqqa. The Turkey-backed forces, now push­ing to­ward the IS strong­hold of al-Bab, have clashed with IS as well as the SDF.

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