Anti - ISIS coalition Spokesperson Colonel John Dorrian stated that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would participate in the operation to liberate Raqqa from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Dorrian added that they would discuss the possibility of Turkey’s role.
According to the United States (US) Secretary of Defence, joining a press briefing by the US Secretary of Defence via teleconference from Baghdad, Iraq, Dorrian upon being asked: “Do you still expect a Kurdish presence entering Raqqa? And is there any sense at this point of about any Turkish involvement in the Raqqa campaign?” responded:
“With regard to the Kurds and whether they will be involved in liberating Raqqa, we do expect that they will be involved at some level. What I would say is we continue working with the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian Arab Coalition. Right about 75 percent of that force that is now isolating Raqqa is Syrian Arab, and this is a reflection that's demographically fairly consistent with what you would find in that area.”
With regard to the role of Turkey, Dorrian said:
“As far as a role for Turkey, we have made clear from -- of many, many weeks, actually months, that we are open to a Turkish role in the continued operations to defeat ISIS in northern Syria. We haven't come to an agreement about what that role will be or if there will be one, but we talk to Turkey through military channels and I believe at diplomatic levels every day. So we'll have to let that continue to be worked out. It has yet to be determined.
Upon being asked about the participation of the Rojava Peshmerga trained by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq who “desire to take part in the fight against ISIS in northern Syria, including Raqqa”, Dorian responded that they did “not have any plans to incorporate them at this time”.
Noting that the Iraqi security units continued to proceed to liberate western Mosul from ISIS, Dorrian added:
“As far as moving on to the discussion of foreign fighters, we have encountered a lot of foreign fighters and there has been tension between the foreign fighters in some cases and the fighters that are from Iraq, particularly in Mosul [...]. (YY/DG)
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