Istanbul, April 28 (IANS) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday urged coalition forces and the US to clear the Islamic State (IS) militants from Manbij and Raqqa towns in Syria.
“Together with the coalition led by the US, Turkey and the Free Syrian Army can clean the area all together,” Xinhua news agency quoted Erdogan as saying at a meeting here.
Currently there are around 2,500 to 5,000 terrorists in Raqqa, Erdogan said. “It is not difficult for us,” he remarked. “Why do we exist if we cannot succeed?”
Turkey has suggested a joint operation to retake Raqqa on condition that the US keeps away the Syrian Kurdish fighters, who are seen by Ankara as the Syrian offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party but treated by the US as a reliable ground force against the IS.
Backed by the rebel Free Syrian Army, the Turkish military launched an operation in Syria in August 2015 and managed to clean about 2,500 square km area.
Turkish troops’ move against Kurds-held Manbij, however, was blocked by the US and Russia.
“We should hand over Manbij to Arabs, who are its real owners,” Erdogan said.