Turkish FM: Do not force people to choose between ISIL and Shiite militias

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Turkish Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Sunday that the people of the Iraqi city of Mosul should not be forced to choose between the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Shiite militias as an operation is under way to retake Mosul from ISIL.

“We think the operation against Mosul should be carried out not by Shiite militias but by the Iraqi army and local forces. There are peshmerga forces in the region. They can also lend support. People should not be forced to choose between Shiite militias and ISIL,” said Çavuşoğlu during a joint press conference with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in Ankara.

Çavuşoğlu also said the people of the Syrian city of Raqqa were also being made to choose between two evils.

“Similarly the people of Raqqa are forced to choose between the PKK [the Kurdistan Workers’ Party], the PYD [Kurdish Democratic Union Party] and DAESH [another acronym for ISIL]. Why should people choose between two evils?” he asked.

Target Al Bab

Regarding the operations against ISIL in northern Syria by the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army, the foreign minister said the new target of Operation Euphrates Shield, which was launched on Aug. 24, is to reach the Syrian city of Al Bab.

Rebels allied with Turkey on Sept. 4 declared that they had cleared terrorist ISIL elements from the last stretch of the Turkish border with Syria.

It was hallmark progress in Turkey’s bid to secure the 90-kilometer (55 miles) corridor and marks a significant step in Ankara’s plan to stop the expansion of Kurdish militias towards the west.

With this, ISIL no longer controls any part of the border and has been removed from NATO’s southeastern frontier in an operation backed by Turkish tanks and troops.

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