Up to 40,000 troops ready to isolate Syria's Raqqah
Coalition spokesman Air Force Col. John Dorrian told reporters via video conference that there are now “adequate forces” for the job and a ballpark of 30,000 to 40,000 U.S.-backed forces are ready to envelope the city held by Daesh since 2014.
The Pentagon plans to isolate the Raqqah using Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group led by PKK/PYD and its military wing, the YPG. Due Turkey’s objection to PKK affiliates’ role in retaking the predominantly Arab populated self-declared Daesh capital, Ankara and Washington are still working on plans seize Raqqah.
According to Dorrian, there will be ongoing dialogue between the U.S. and its coalition partners as well as allies to decide who would actually would go in and hold the city while the isolation operation is completed.
Responding to an Anadolu Agency question about who would cut off Daesh supply routes to Raqqah in the south as Syrian Democratic Forces press the militant group from the north, Dorrian said: “there are significant numbers of Arab forces in that area as well” and the coalition is intending to train as many as possible.
Dorrian also addressed reports about an audio recording allegedly by Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and its implication but he said he could not confirm its authenticity.
“It is quite clearly an effort on the part of Daesh to communicate to their fighters,” Dorrian said characterizing it as an evidence for the severity in the control and command ability of Daesh leadership.
In the recording, Baghdadi allegedly addresses Daesh members in the city and asks fighters to hold their grounds and not leave.
He also calls on members not to fight each other.
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