Prospects for a Turkish offensive against Raqqa


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that he is ready to work with the US to launch an offensive on the capital of ISIS Raqqa. According to the Turkish President, a joint operation was discussed at the G20 summit in Hangzhou.

A full-scale intervention

The attack on the capital of ISIS will require a more large-scale involvement of the Turkish armed forces in the conflict. If now the main task of the operation "Euphrates Shield" is control over the Turkish-Syrian border, this will require several thousand fighters of the Turkish controlled Free Syrian Army, the successful capture of Raqqa is impossible without the direct intervention of the Turkish military.

Replacing the Kurds

The Turkish president seeks to demonstrate that Turkey can replace Kurdish units as the main force of the US anti-ISIS operation. Thus, the Turks are proposing that the United States stops supporting the Kurds in exchange for taking Raqqa. For the outgoing Democratic administration in Washington, this may be a significant foreign policy achievement. However, the US will lose the opportunity to use the Kurdish card in the region.

Moscow and Washington's Interests

From a tactical point of view the drawing of Turkish Forces to the east is in the interest of Damascus and Moscow. Now the question is what will happen when, as Aleppo province is liberated from ISIS and after the capture of the city of Al-Bab by the Turkish-controlled Free Syrian Army, the positions of Syrian troops besieging Aleppo are approached. If Turkey will focus the thrust of its activity eastward, it will help Russia and Syria to solve operational problems in Aleppo and reduce the risk of a possible collision with Syrian and Turkish government troops. However, in the strategic perspective the United States, they would be interested in a direct military conflict between Ankara and Damascus, the consequences of a full-scale Turkish intervention in Syria.