Turkey Ready to Press Deeper Into Syria After Al-Bab Victory – Foreign Minister
Turkey intends to continue its advance into Syria to drive Islamists out of their Raqqa stronghold after securing a strategic town in Syria’s north, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday.
The Turkish army’s chief of staff announced on Friday Syrian rebels had taken full control of al-Bab after months of fighting. Cavusoglu said he had discussed further steps with members of the US-led coalition.
"We discussed Raqqa with French, British and German representatives. With due planning and help from locals, we will easily free the Syrian territory," Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by Turkey’s Anadolu agency.
The Syrian government in Damascus has been vocal about its opposition to Turkish presence since Ankara launched an offensive last August to retake parts of northern Syrian territories from Daesh, a terrorist group outlawed in Russia, Syria and other countries, with help from Syrian rebels.
US Defense Department spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said last week the Raqqa offensive would start after the Syrian armed opposition fully isolated the de facto Daesh capital. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched the operation to retake the city, called Wrath of Euphrates, last November.