Monday, 26 June, 2017

The US-Backed Fight In Syria To Retake Raqqa Faces Complex Divisions

A convoy of US forces armoured vehicles drives near the village of Yalanli on the western outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Manbij ISIS hopes to hold onto shreds of 'caliphate': US official
Lance Thomas | 13 March, 2017, 00:19

And support for Trump and his use of military troops will likely hinge on the level of success the U.S. Marines have in their latest mission.

Residents in Aleppo have depended on wells and water deliveries arranged by the government, charities and the United Nations children's agency, UNICEF.

Conflicting U.S. and Turkish agendas have surfaced clearly over Manbij, a city controlled by Kurdish-allied militia since its capture from Islamic State previous year.

Several hundred Marines have arrived in Syria to provide artillery support to USA -backed Syrian rebels preparing to retake Raqqa, ISIS' de facto capital in Syria, a us official said Wednesday.

The US wants Raqqa captured and its dispatch of the Marines to man M777 155mm artillery that will range on the ISIS fighters and pummel them, as it did in the Mosul offensive in Iraq, is key to the strategy.

US -backed Syrian Kurds and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey have both played a role in the USA -led coalition to defeat ISIS. The US-backed group has proved to be the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria, moving in past months to isolate Raqqa and cut off supply lines.

At the center of the debate is Turkish anger that the USA has signaled it plans to arm and back Kurdish YPG forces to take back Raqqa.

The U.S. already had some 500 advisers working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (a a coalition of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters) in addition to a force of 400 that arrived more recently, Dorrian said.

"These Marines are providing artillery fire support to the coalition - the indigenous Syrian forces there that are leading the fight to retake Raqqa". The White House hasn't yet approved the plans, but the recent deployments into Syria suggest that President Donald Trump may be leaning toward giving the Pentagon greater flexibility to make routine combat decisions in the IS fight.

The U.S.is sending 2,500 additional forces to Kuwait to serve in a reserve capacity in the fight against the Islamic State, Army Times reports.

"The number of our forces is now increasing, particularly from among the people of the area, and we have enough strength to liberate Raqqa with support from the coalition forces", the SDF spokeswoman, Jihan Ahmed, said.

The United States turned up the heat on the Islamic State group Thursday, sending an additional 400 U.S. troops into Syria to support an offensive to retake manoeuvring, the jihadists' de facto capital.

Syrian Kurdish groups meanwhile sense Washington is now more firmly behind them than before, a shift they hope will eventually aid their ambitions for autonomy after years of persecution by the Syrian government.

Meanwhile, Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Observatory monitor group, said that the major battle for Raqqa is "very close". The group said USA -led coalition aircraft were believed to behind the attack.

The United States is carrying out airstrikes in Syria and has deployed surface-to-surface rockets in the northern part of the country.

In Deir al-Zour, the SDF continued to advance against IS in the countryside of that oil-rich province, capturing four towns there on Friday following intense battles with IS, according to local Qasioun newspaper.

"Fighting has entered the first Aamel district today, there was a CTS attack at dawn, and they ran away, retreated", said Captain Muthanna al Saadi of the CTS 2nd division.

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