Backing local forces vital against Daesh: Turkey
Anti-Daesh operations in Iraq's Mosul and Syria's Raqqa can succeed if local forces are supported, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday.

"With a better strategy, and with joint air support from coalition forces, both Mosul and Raqqa operations can be successful if our special forces support local forces on the ground. This would help clear these areas off Daesh,” Cavusoglu told a joint press conference alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Cavusoglu said the success of the operation in Jarabulus, Syria "further encouraged the local forces in Raqqa and Mosul.

"We saw what the Free Syrian Army moderate opposition can do when supported by coalition members,” he said.

On Aug. 24, Operation Euphrates Shield was launched, which aims at improving security, supporting coalition forces and eliminating the terror threat along Turkey’s border using Free Syrian Army fighters backed by Turkish armor, artillery and jets.

Cavusoglu said local forces were not only important in the fight against Daesh, but also in ensuring security once the operations were over and Daesh was ousted. He added this would also allow displaced people to return to their homes.

"If the de facto safe zone created after the Manbij pocket [in Syria] is totally cleared of Daesh can be supported with a no-fly zone, a lot of migrants will find the opportunity to voluntarily return home. Of course, nobody can be forced to return to those lands. It must be voluntary,” Cavusoglu said.

Daesh lost Syria’s northern city of Manbij after two months of battles against the U.S.-backed "Syrian Democratic Forces”.

The minister also warned that local forces should not serve their own agendas, like the terrorist organization PYD/PKK.

"Instead of forcing people to migrate, one should establish the security of those already living there and who will live there. Establishing a no-fly zone is not the sole responsibility of NATO. A UN resolution is in order,” he said.

Stoltenberg for his part said, for long-term purposes, it was a better strategy to train local forces instead of deploying NATO forces to a particular region.

"First of all, I would like to underline that NATO plays a key role in the fight against terrorism but of course NATO is not the only answer. We need the police, we need the intelligence, we need many kinds of civilian tools in the fight against terrorism and Daesh," he said, adding NATO started to train Iraqi officers to enable them to fight Daesh and stabilize their own country.

"The reason why I am underlining the importance of training local forces is that I believe that in the long run, it is better to train local forces enabling them to fight terrorism, and to stabilize their own country instead of NATO deploying a large number of combat troops and combat operations," he said.

Stoltenberg also thanked Turkey for its contribution to many different NATO operations and activities, as well as efforts to fight international terrorism.

"And I also appreciate the way you have supported and facilitated the NATO presence in the Aegean Sea, cutting the lines of illegal trafficking and human smuggling in the Aegean.

"And just as you stand with NATO, NATO stands with Turkey and we have increased our military presence in Turkey with more assets in the air, naval assets. And also defensive missile defense systems deployed in Turkey," he said.

The NATO chief also commented on the July 15 coup attempt.

"To bomb a national Parliament while the parliamentarians are there is an attack on innocent people but it’s also an attack on what of the strongest symbols and institutions in a democratic society.

"Those involved in the coup attempt should face due legal process and be brought to justice," he said.

Last Modified: 2016-09-10 07:57:15
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