Beirut: The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces militia is set to lead the fight for the IS’s bastion of Raqa, but its role has stoked tensions between Washington and Turkey.
The alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters has advanced to within a few kilometers of Raqa on several fronts, and last week captured the strategic town of Tabqa and the adjacent dam from the jihadists.
However, Ankara considers the key Kurdish component of the SDF to be an affiliate of the designated “terrorist” group Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey.
The advances were also stirring local tensions with Syrian Arabs concerned that Kurdish forces were seeking to dominate non-Kurdish regions.
Turkish opposition members and human rights defenders are urging President Donald Trump to raise the issue of Turkey's deteriorating human rights and democracy in talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday. He is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House for discussions.