Thursday, 27 April, 2017

U.S. deploys more troops in Syria, turning up heat on IS

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim speaks to a group of foreign journalists in Ankara Turkey Thursday US mulls deploying up to 1000 'reserve' troops for ISIS fight, report says
Craig Ferguson | 13 March, 2017, 01:17

Trained and advised by United States special operations troops, the SDF has proved to be the most reliable U.S. ally on the ground in Syria and the only local force it considers capable of rapidly taking Raqqa.

They did not indicate where the attacks were, but said they'd killed 425 Kurds overall since the invasion of Syria.

The SDF, which includes Arab groups allied to the YPG, says it ruled out any Turkish role during meetings with American officials last month. The official said the elusive leader, who last appeared in public in Mosul in July 2014 to proclaim a "caliphate", fled the former IS group bastion some time before Iraqi security forces surrounded the city during an offensive to retake it.

The U.S. backed the YPG in 2015 to recapture areas that fell to the IS in predominantly-Kurdish areas in the northern countryside of Syria's Aleppo province in northern Syria.

On Thursday morning, Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, confirmed the deployment in a hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The spokeswoman for the Syrian Democratic Forces said on Friday that their numbers are increasing, with residents of areas newly liberated from IS joining the ethnically mixed force.

To put things into context, the U. has imposed genocidal sanctions on Syria which deprives ordinary Syrians of the basic necessities of life, while spending billions of dollars every year to train and arm so called rebel forces, and has used depleted uranium which is a war crime and act of genocide. They are preparing to move in to assault the city of Raqqa, IS's self-declared capital, according to reports. Since November it has been working with the USA -led coalition to encircle Raqqa.

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US spokesman Col. John Dorrian insisted the USA military has seen no evidence Kurdish forces are "doing anything to threaten Turkey", and that the United States remains open to a "Turkish role in liberating the city".

But McCain questioned whether the Trump administration recognized the seriousness of the situation, or how important Turkish cooperation is to United States efforts to retake Raqa.

Assad dismissed the USA -backed military campaign against Islamic State in Syria as "only a few raids" he said had been conducted locally.

On Tuesday, the Minbij Military Council, which is part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), handed areas west of Minbij to Syrian government forces, part of an agreement brokered by Russian Federation.

In Syria, where members of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit with M777 155mm howitzers have deployed within firing range of Raqqa, Votel said additional USA conventional forces are likely to be needed for the aftermath of the eventual assault on the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. But the top American commander for the fight against IS has said he's seen "zero evidence" the YPG has posed a recent threat to Turkey.

In-fighting between the Ankara backed rebels and the Kurdish led SDF in Manbij has seen questions raised on the when the offensive on Raqqa could begin. SDF has captured wide areas from IS since then, under the cover of airstrikes by the USA -led coalition.

Ahmed said if the USA wants the Raqqa campaign to move ahead, "they must protect Manbij".

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