Syrian War Report – February 20, 2017: Turkey Further Pushes Its Plan For Raqqah Offensive

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Pro-Turkish militants and the Turkish army have still been facing difficulties in breaking ISIS defenses around al-Bab. Turkey-led forces have failed to seize Qabasin and Bzaah, and retreated from almost all areas seized inside al-Bab. Intense fighting is ongoing.

Meanwhile, the Syrian army, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, continued its operation against ISIS terrorists east of the Kuweires Airbase, outflanking Deir Hafer from the northern direction.

The Syrian army has liberated a number of sites along the Homs-Palmyra highway from ISIS and is now in about 13km from the Palmyra triangle, an important logistical site near the western gates of Palmyra. However, government forces still have to liberate at least Jazar fields, the Hamrah Mount and the Hayal Mount in order to at least partly secure their flags before the storm of Palmyra.

Fighting has been ongoing in the Manshiyah neighborhood of the city of Daraa in southwestern Syria. According to pro-militant sources, 30 government troops, including 12 officers, had been killed, 2 battle tanks, two 23mm guns and a buldozer belonging to the Syrian army had been destroyed. The joint forces of the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) had allegedly captured a 14,5mm gun and tank projectiles. However, the militant advance faced a deadlock and now sides are engaged in a positional warfare in an urban area.

Turkey has suggested to the United States two plans of an operation to “liberate” the city of Raqqah from ISIS, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on Saturday. According to the report, the Turkish military chief Hulusi Akar had submitted the proposals to his US counterpart Joseph Dunford. Then, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said that Turkey will not get directly involved in an operation to liberate Syria’s Raqqa from ISIS, but instead it will provide tactical support. “The United States, Turkey along with local forces, civilian forces, the FSA and other militias… they are at the forefront while we are at the back,” Yıldırım told reporters in Munich where he is attending a security conference. In other words, Turkey’s involvement in the operation remains unclear.

Turkey launched a military intervention in Syria in August 2016, deploying troops and heavy military equipment, backed up by warplanes across the border in an operation allegedly aimed against ISIS terrorists. However, another clear goal of this move was to prevent expansion of the Kurdish YPG in northern Syria along with the Turkish border. This creates significant tensions between US-backed Kurdish forces involved in the ongoing operation against ISIS in the Raqqah countryside and Turkish forces.

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  • Trustin Judeau

    No it doesnt.They are just talking for domestic reasons.Remember they talked the same thing about Mosul.

  • El gobierno Turco no piensa pelear contra ISIS su objetivo principal es SDF y lo ha cumplido cortando la unión de los Cantones de Afrin y Kobani.

  • Rodney Loder

    Agreed, ! all for domestic consumption in the States, and for Erdogan its all to do with the Referendum, who can’t recognised his intelligence ?, and who doesn’t know the genius of Trump convincing the home crowd he’s a mighty War Lord and convincing his opponents that he is really only pretending to be a Hawk so the Deep State can be defeated by the Doves, Trump appears to have taken the good cop bad cop routine to hair brain level, only them with a brain the size of a hair can’t see through it, so why is he a genius many may ask, I think it’s because most Americans and Australians consider his mental constructions to be of an opaque nature and therefore fitting for an American President, but what he’s doing has never been tried before, all US Presidential Candidates do play the friendly sceniora but have an escape hatch, GW Bush had Iraq 03, and Obama had Lebanon 06 and wiped out Libya in 2012, Trump posing as a World Dictator will have to put on a show the size of his boasts , the Hawks say it’s not good enough just going up against China and Iran it has to be Russia as well, Trump seemingly is locking himself into this scenario, all other Presidents had safe wars lined up to satisfy the both States, deep and stupid, the genius of Trump was to manipulate the deep to be stupid and the stupid to be facing inevitable enlightenment, so maybe Trump is what he says he is, but to be that, he would have to be sacrificing himself knowingly.