Erdogan hopeful for breakthrough in dispute on arming Kurds

Count on the same measure of time and patience to retake Raqqa, Islamic State's de facto capital in war-wracked Syria.

Nasser Haj Mansour, an adviser to the SDF, said the town and the adjacent Tabqa dam were now "completely liberated" after the SDF drove all Islamic State militants out.

The capture of Tabqa seven weeks after the launch of the SDF offensive, with help from the US -led coalition, sets the stage for an advance on Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the extremists' self-styled caliphate, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the east.

"The (Syrian Democratic Force), partnered with enabling support from US and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future", White said.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

The SDF has been working to tighten the noose around Raqqa before a final assault.

Turkey says the fighters are an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. "We'll work out any of the concerns". The U.S. and other Western nations also view the PKK as a terrorist group.

One of the major papers in Turkey, Sozcu, has already called for the government to shutdown the US base in retaliation.

Earlier this week, the United States announced it would arm the Kurdish elements of the SDF for the fight for Raqqa - dubbed Operation Wrath of the Euphrates.

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The death toll has soared in the past few months as the Pentagon has provided massive air support to Iraqi government forces and militia groups besieging the northern city of Mosul, and carried out a parallel bombing campaign in conjunction with the advance of a force comprised primarily of the Kurdish YPG militia, backed by United States special operations troops, against Raqqa in Syria.

He said that weapons approved by the White House for the YPG had yet to arrive, but added: "I believe these weapons or this support will arrive soon".

"At the start of entering (Raqqa), of course, as (the USA -led coalition) promised us, there will be support in the form of specialized weapons, armoured vehicles or others", he said.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Yildirim said the issue of weapons for the PKK/PYD would be addressed in detail during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Washington next week. Sozcu is antagonistic to the Erdogan government, which suggests opposition to the US arming the SDF is a widely held opinion in Turkey.

Syrian state media said 718 fighters and 528 others were bussed out of the Barzeh and Tishreen neighborhoods in the second round of departures from the area since it came under government siege last month. But Turkey and Russia have lately been cooperating - Putin and Erdogan met last week - most recently on the creation if "de-escalation" zones in Syria, with Turkey, Russia and Iran acting as guarantors - a move of which the US has been wary.

"Tomorrow (Thursday), the teams will assess the dam and the level of damage caused by the clashes", the source told AFP.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hope on Friday that his upcoming visit to Washington will constitute a new "milestone" for the troubled relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

"The SDF now has further isolated ISIS in Raqqa, which is the group's stronghold, and will continue to pursue the military defeat of ISIS throughout Syria", he said. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees the YPG as a thinly disguised Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, the US -designated terror group he is fighting in southeast Turkey.

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