Turkey sets up new base in Syria’s Raqqa

The Turkish military has established a new base in northern Syria, Middle East Monitor reported on Monday.

The base is equipped with an air defence system and is located near the M4 highway to the north of the city of Raqqa, the London-based news website said, citing local sources.

The military facility is the fourth base that Turkey has established in Syria, Middle East Monitor said. It has 14 bases in the majority-Kurdish region of northern Iraq, mostly located along its border, according to researcher Abdulla Hawez.

Turkey stations troops in Syria after launching military incursions to combat Kurdish militants, the Islamic State (ISIS) and to establish so-called safe zones allowing for the return of Syrian refugees. On Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on Western powers to back Turkish operations in Syria to strengthen the opposition and to protect human rights and democracy.

The Russian military and the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have brought in new forces to replace those in shared positions near Raqqa’s Ain Issa district, the Middle East Monitor said.

Russia backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and labels opposition Islamic militants operating near the Turkish border as terrorists. Last week, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on Turkey to withdraw its military from the country.