ANKARA, Turkey (Kurdistan24) – The capture and administration of the Islamic State’s (IS) de facto capital of Raqqa, “as a city that is wholly Arab, by non-Arab forces would not serve peace,” according to a top Turkish official.
Speaking to reporters at an Ankara press conference after a Monday cabinet meeting, Turkey’s Government Spokesperson Numan Kurtulmus stated his country’s concerns regarding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) operation launched Sunday to liberate Raqqa from the IS.
“When it comes to Raqqa, armed terror groups have no legitimacy,” said Kurtulmus who is also the Deputy Prime Minister. “Legitimacy can be derived only from legitimate state armed forces.”
“I think any steps taken by a non-Arab force in this operation is against peace in the United States and the region,” he continued.
Turkey is alarmed by Kurdish self-rule in Syria which it fears will stir Kurdish demands in a dozen provinces within its borders.
Kurdistan24 bureau in Ankara reported that Kurtulmus hoped the ruling Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) did not rule Raqqa, a prospect already denied by Kurdish officials.
“Turkey is ready for any consequence of the operation,” added Kurtulmus who reiterated Turkey’s insistence on capturing the town of Manbij west of the Euphrates from the Kurdish forces.
Additionally, Kurtulmus said Turkish officials had relayed their intentions about Manbij to the US Chief of Staff Joseph Dunford.
Dunford was on an unannounced visit to Ankara and met with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Sunday shortly after the launch of the Raqqa Operation.
Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), labeled by Turkey as a terrorist organization, makes up the main bulk of the US-backed multi-ethnic SDF that aimed to isolate Raqqa in the first phase of the offensive.
US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Sunday welcomed the SDF launch of the Raqqa Operation announced by Jehan Sheikh Amad, a spokeswoman for the group.
Amad held a conference in the Syrian town of Ain Issa, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Raqqa, confirming the start of the offensive.
The US-led anti-IS coalition warplanes conducted 16 airstrikes near Ain Issa in support of the SDF on Sunday, according to an official factsheet by the Department of Defense.
Some 30,000 Kurdish and Arab fighters are taking part in the SDF offensive.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had last week demanded from the US to exclude Kurdish-led forces from joining any offensive to liberate Raqqa.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany