Turkey PM says Raqqa operation has begun

  • Turkey PM says Raqqa operation has begun

Turkey PM says Raqqa operation has begun

Talal Sillo, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, told reporters Tuesday that operations have begun in coordination with the USA -led coalition. It says the families were fleeing the city in boats across the Euphrates River ahead of an expected all-out attack by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

On Saturday, Erdogan once again expressed his displeasure with the USA for supporting the Kurds and threatened an invasion "without asking anyone" if Turkey came under attack.

The latest push comes one day after a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG militia, a key component of the SDF, said that a major operation on Raqqa will start in the next "few days".

The US-led coalition in Syria on Sunday rejected Turkish claims that the operation to liberate Raqqa from the Islamic State (ISIL or Daesh, outlawed in Russia) terrorist group has begun.

The YPG has been the main partner for the United States in its campaign against Islamic State in Syria, where the group is also being fought in separate campaigns waged by the Russian-backed Syrian government and Free Syrian Army rebel groups.

He said US -led coalition forces will continue to support the SDF in Raqqa, providing equipment, training, Intelligence and logistics as well as precision firepower.

"We all saw the heinous attack in Manchester, England", said Townsend. Iraqi forces launched an offensive to capture the northern city of Mosul, the largest in that country held by IS, in October and heavy fighting continues there. "ISIS threatens all of our nations, not just Iraq and Syria, but in our own homelands as well". The U.S. guaranteed that weapons it supplied won't be used against Turkish security forces and citizens, he said.

It added that the IS fighters and their families withdrew from the town before the army could place a full siege on it, following the cutting of the road between the town and northern province of Raqqa, the de facto capital of IS.

"This will be dense urban terrain as they (SDF) go in and there will be many civilians", Pentagon spokesperson Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Tuesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 21 people were killed in the Monday night airstrikes.

The SDF launched the Raqqa attack on Monday at dawn, the start of what Davis said "will be a very, very hard battle going forward".

The airstrikes have intensified in recent weeks as SDF fighters have reached the outskirts of the city.