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Middle East

Turkey to play role in battle for Raqqah: Pentagon chief

US Defense Secretary James Mattis says the United States will work with Turkey to liberate the Daesh-held northeastern Syrian city of Raqqah.

“Our intent is to work with the Turks, alongside one another to take Raqqah down,” Mattis said on Tuesday while speaking at a news conference following an anti-Daesh summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“We are going to sort it out and figure out how we are going to do it, but we are all committed to it,” he added.

The US military has said that talks are underway with Turkey on the role Ankara might play in the operation to liberate Raqqah, which Daesh has held for more than two years.

Last month, Turkish fighter jets bombed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces in Syria fighting against Daesh militants, drawing rebuke from the US State Department and the Pentagon.

Turkey says YPG fighters are linked to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, who have killed more than 40,000 people in Turkey since 1984.

The Turkish military said the April 25 attacks centered on Mount Sinjar in Iraq and Mount Karakoc in Syria.

The strike in Syria reportedly hit the area, where the headquarters of the US-backed YPG forces are located, killing and wounding an unspecified number of fighters.

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militants have largely surrounded Raqqah and are expected to begin an offensive soon. It is not yet clear what role the YPG militia will play in the operation.

US military provides air support members of the SDF – a Kurdish-dominated and anti-Damascus alliance.

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