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Are Ankara’s prospects in Syria dimming?

Turkey is hemmed in by the United States and Russia in Syria, unable to achieve its aim of blocking Kurdish gains.
Rebel fighters stand amidst rubble at the entrance to a tunnel they said belonged to Islamic State fighters which connects the city to Aqeel mountain, in the northern Syrian city of al-Bab, Syria March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX30UPT

Having been refused a role in the liberation of Mosul from the Islamic State (IS), signs are mounting that Turkey will also be excluded from the approaching operation to liberate Raqqa. Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield has been unable to advance farther than the outskirts of al-Bab in northern Syria, after the Turkish army and its Free Syrian Army (FSA) proxies took that town in February from IS.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s determination to move northeast on to the town of Manbij, which is held by US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and then on to the IS stronghold of Raqqa, in order to carve out a 5,000-square-kilometer (1,930-square-mile) “safe zone,” appears highly unrealistic at this stage, analysts say.

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