ISTANBUL, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday reiterated his resolve to capture northern Syrian town of Manbij as part of Turkey's ongoing military operation.
"Our determination continues," the president told reporters at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport prior to his departure for Pakistan. "The next phase is Manbij as we have earlier determined."
He said if Ankara agrees with Russia and the United States, there are steps to be taken for the capture of both Manbij and Raqqa, a stronghold of the Islamic State (IS) in northern Syria.
"It is important for us to discuss the issue with Russia as a close country to us and at the same time to be in solidarity with the United States as a strategic partner of Turkey and the coalition forces as well," Erdogan said. "If our allies are really sincere, we will act with you so long as we cleanse Raqqa from Daesh and give it back to its original owners."
He once again ruled out cooperation with the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party and its military wing, the People's Protection Units, which are controlling Manbij but seen as terror groups by Ankara, in the upcoming battle for Raqqa held by IS, also known as Daesh by its Arabic language acronym.
The Syrian Kurdish militias, however, are regarded by the U.S. as reliable partners on the ground in the fight against IS.
Turkey launched a military offensive in northern Syria in August last year backed by the rebel Free Syrian Army, taking Jarabulus and al-Bab from IS.