Anläßlich des von Sprechern der SDF verkündeten Beginns der Raqqa-Offensive konferierte der Chairman Chief of Staff mit dem türkischen Generalstabschef Hulusi Akar. Auf amerikanische Initiative, wie die türkische Seite angelegentlich mitteilt.
Reuters A U.S.-backed assault on Raqqa, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria, is unlikely to pierce the city itself before President Barack Obama leaves office in January.
„There is no available force capable of taking Raqqa in the near future,“ said one U.S. official. Another said some of the needed Arab forces were still in training. Like seven other officials interviewed for this report, they requested anonymity to discuss the issue.
„We always advertised that the isolation phase is going to take months,“ Dunford was quoted as saying on Sunday by a U.S. defense department reporter traveling with him in Turkey. Dunford’s visit to Ankara came as the Obama administration is enmeshed in a delicate balancing act between NATO ally Turkey and rival Syrian Kurdish forces trained and equipped by the United States.
„Raqqa is every bit as infested as Mosul, perhaps even more so,“ said Thomas Lynch, a National Defense University fellow and retired Army officer. „But there is an enormous investment by this administration in terms of going after Raqqa before it leaves office.“
Administration advocates of a rapid assault on Raqqa think YPG units will participate and enough Arabs will be enlisted and trained as the noose around the city tightens. …
Obama spent more than two hours on the telephone in late October with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as part of an intense U.S. diplomatic drive to overcome Erdogan’s objections to YPG participation in the Raqqa offensive, U.S. officials said.
„For us, the linchpin here is for the Turks to exercise enough restraint (and) get them to resist the temptation to do anything that would spark a conflict that might get out of control,“ said the second U.S. official. „It’s a hand-holding exercise on both sides of the aisle.“
But he and other U.S. officials acknowledged that crushing Islamic State is not as high a priority for Erdogan as ensuring that the YPG cannot knit Kurdish enclaves in northern Syria into a de facto state that could strengthen the PKK.
Obama, CENTCOM schützen Aleppo – noch
For now, the Turkey-backed force has stopped short of al Bab, which is about 30 kilometers from the Turkish border, U.S. officials said.
Al Babs fall to the Turkish-backed force could prompt the YPG to reject a role in the Raqqa offensive and alter the course of the conflict in northern Syria. „That would be the outcome we least desire,“ a second U.S. official said.
The rebels also could use a [turkish secured „safe zone“] to re-establish supply corridors from the Turkish border and open a new front aimed at relieving the Syrian regime’s siege of opposition-held eastern Aleppo, experts said.
„An eventual reopening of the Aleppo city front is an inevitability,“ said Charles Lister, an expert with the Middle East Institute in Washington. „The opposition will go whether the Turks want it or not.“