Next stop: Raqqa and Manbij

On Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a press conference in Istanbul before leaving on a three-country tour of the Gulf. In response to a question about the objectives and limits of Turkey’s Syria policy, he stated that al-Bab was about to fall and announced that the Free Syrian Army (FSA), backed by the Turkish military, would march against Raqqa and Manbij next.

After all, Operation Euphrates Shield’s stated goal has been to remove terrorist groups, not just Daesh, from northern Syria. Moving forward, Turkey will seek to set up a 5,000-square-kilometer safe zone in the area and enforce a no-fly zone. In addition to training a national military force in northern Syria, Turkey want to shelter civilians from violence.

To be clear, there is no doubt that Erdoğan’s plan, which he reportedly shared with the United States, Russia and Germany, is quite audacious. But it is important to understand that Turkey has no alternative to assuming an active role in the Syrian civil war – which has been the root cause of many problems that the NATO ally has faced in recent years.

See more: