Syrian force a 'few weeks' from Raqqa, US Marines deploy

Caroline Beck
March 13, 2017

The US is also said to be preparing to send up to 1,000 troops to Kuwait to serve as a reserve force that can deployed to fight IS in Syria and Iraq if necessary.

They did not indicate where the attacks were, but said they'd killed 425 Kurds overall since the invasion of Syria. Kurdish forces, also known as the YPG, are viewed with no distinction from the PKK by the Turkish government and Turkey has labeled the PKK as a terrorist group, according to the Atlantic Council.

Friday's statement came a day after Syria's state media reported that Turkish troops shelled Syrian army positions north of the country, killing and wounding several troops. 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.

Ankara claimed that its military campaign was aimed at pushing Daesh from Turkey's border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish forces, but Damascus denounced the operation as a breach of its sovereignty.

The terrorist ISIS group is on the verge of lasting defeat as its last strongholds are fast crumble, the U.S. Department of Defence has said. The Pentagon's involvement in Syria is aimed at destroying Islamic State, first from the air, then with special forces and small arms and now with Marines and Rangers.

While he was held captive Theo said he was able to witness a number of armed factions emerging in northwestern Syria, leading him to believe there will be rise of a "second Islamic State" near Europe and the Turkish border.

Additional concern over the use of the SDF forces comes from the 200,000 residents inside Raqqa - mostly Sunni Arabs who fear that a victory for the Kurdish group could lead to forced displacement from their homes.

The Turkish-backed forces have yet to field a group large enough to tackle Raqqa and had a hard time in liberating Al Bab, which "was a much smaller problem set", he said.

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Najib called the act "abhorrent" and said Malaysia "will not hesitate to take all measures necessary" to protect its citizens. Rumours have also been circulating that it was a matter of time before Jong-nam's body would be claimed by a next-of-kin.

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in early December that 200 additional American special operations troops would join the 300 already serving in a train, advise and assist role inside Syria since early 2016.

Turkey and the USA are locked in a heated dispute about US plans to liberate Raqqa, with Turkey insisting its own military and allied forces in Syria should mount the fight and that USA -backed Syrian Kurds should be excluded.

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.

Meanwhile, as Turkish troops and their Syrian allies advanced east of al-Bab and threatened to move on Manbij, Russia brokered a deal that effectively created a buffer zone between them and Kurdish-led forces by handing over some villages to Syrian government troops.

But in light of US ground forces being deployed to Syria, Democrats in Washington said on Friday that they will attempt to stop additional troops from being sent.

Despite the many complications, the US remains focused on Raqqa.

The US is allied with both the Turkey-backed rebels and Kurdish fighter groups - but those factions bitterly oppose each other, and fighting has recently broken out between the two. "In all the wars the Americans took part in, their forces' presence has some prestige, status, and confrontations are avoided".

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

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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