ISTANBUL, (Xinhua) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday signaled his readiness to work with the United States in removing the Islamic State (IS) from its de-facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria, but insisted on the exclusion of Syrian Kurdish militias from any operation, local media said.
“Our foreign ministry officials and military officials have been in contact with the U.S. about the Raqqa issue,” the president said on his way back from New York after attending UN General Assembly sessions, according to private NTV news channel.
“Raqqa is the most important center for Deash. If U.S. will not make PYD and YPG be involved in this business, we can of course join this struggle with the U.S.,” he said.
On Thursday, Erdogan’s spokesman ruled out the possibility of Turkey joining any operation against Deash or IS militants in Raqqa to be joined by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) or its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Erdogan also indicated that Ankara could contribute to the seizure of Mosul, the Iraq‘s second largest city, from the IS.
Turkey sent tanks, warplanes and special operations forces into northern Syria on Aug. 24 in a launch of what it called Operation Euphrates Shield to fight both the IS and Syrian Kurdish militias.