Ground operation a must in Daesh fight: Turkey FM
Daesh cannot be easily defeated without a ground operation, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday.

"This is what we have been asking at every meeting. Without ground operation you cannot defeat this bloody terrorist organization,” Cavusoglu said during an interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN.

Cavusoglu said Turkey has sent its Special Forces to assist the Free Syrian Army on the ground but with a common enemy, coalition partners should have a shared goal in defeating Daesh.

Responding to a question about Turkey’s next step in its Operation Euphrates Shield, the foreign minister said his country wants to make the Manbij pocket – a 98-kilometers (60 miles) stripe of land along the Turkish Syrian border – a safe zone and clean the area of Daesh.

He said the Syrian city of al-Bab, a Daesh stronghold 40 kilometer (30 miles) south of the Turkish border, and Raqqa, the militant group’s self declared capital, would be the next targets to recapture from Daesh.

Last week a group of American Special Forces went to Cobanbey to accompany Turkish forces to train Free Syrian Army fighters as they move toward al-Bab.

Turkey recently conveyed to the coalition that it would support the ground forces to take Raqqa.

Cavusoglu noted the significance of retaking Raqqa in the Daesh fight saying that if the terror group is cleared of those areas which corresponds to nearly 5,000 square kilometers (3,106 square miles) can be a safe zone for Syrian refugees.

He said European leaders support this proposal but the U.S. is still considering it.

Amanpour asked the minister that although the world had seen that a few hours of sustained military pressure by Turkey could easily defeated Daesh in Jarablus, what is preventing Anakara from doing more to defeat the militant group.

"After the Jarabulus operation, actually everybody gained their confidence that Daesh could be defeated easily, it's not that difficult," he said.

"We are 65 countries in the coalition against Daesh and there are maybe 30,000 Daesh terrorists,” he added.

Cavusoglu said many countries do not want to send forces to help in the anti-Daesh fight but have asked Turkey to go alone.

"Why only Turkey?” he said. "This is the common enemy. We have to defeat them together.”

Responding to a question about a recently brokered truce in Syria that was broken unilaterally by the Syrian regime, Cavusoglu said it was not the first-ever deal between the U.S. and Russia and each deal brokered has been violated by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

After coalition aircraft struck an Assad military camp killing 62 soldiers during the weekend, Assad declared Monday that the truce was over.

Amid the tensions between Moscow and Washington regarding the strike Saturday, Assad regime helicopters hit a humanitarian aid convoy near Aleppo.

"Each time unfortunately, the cessation of hostilities was violated by the regime and its supporters,” Cavusoglu pointed said. "This time, it is not different. The regime has been bombing not only Aleppo but also many different parts of Syria. They are targeting the moderate opposition. They are not targeting al-Nusrah; they are not targeting Daesh,” he added.

Last Modified: 2016-09-20 12:54:10
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