Sunday, June 05, 2016

Challenging Islamic State

"We have always been focused on evicting ISIS from Raqqa and we will continue to support the SDF as they conduct ground operations to further isolate the city."
"The US-led coalition will continue to provide air support for SDF operations against ISIS."
Col. Steve Warren, US-led coalition against ISIL 

"It seems clear to me that this is a case in which the US is trying to communicate very symbolically and very clearly that ISIL is on its back foot."
"Raqqa could be the beginning of the end for the group...From a symbolic point of view I think this is the most important offensive we have seen since Kobane last year."
Joshua Walker, German Marshall Fund

"It is crucial to have enough Arab fighters in this force when [they] take these areas where a lot of Arab, non-Kurds live."
"Because there is a lot of suspicion of the Kurds, it's incredibly difficult; which is why it's taken so long to start this." 
Stefanie Dekker, journalist, Al Jazeera, Gaziantep, Turkey
People salvage goods from an aid convoy that was damaged during an airstrike in the rebel held al-Sakhour district of Aleppo, Syria on Saturday.
People salvage goods from an aid convoy that was damaged during an airstrike in the rebel held al-Sakhour district of Aleppo, Syria on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of armed groups led by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), the very mention of which sends Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan into a blind rage, is backed by the US. coalition, and has mobilized thousands of combatants north of Raqqa. This represents a part of the military offensive whose intention is to finally dislodge the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from its stronghold in Raqqa, where it is has ruled for the past two-and-a-half years.

Their presence has brought ISIL into defensively fighting ferocious battles on four fronts in Syria and in Iraq where ISIL remains in control of large areas in both countries. While U.S.-backed fighters and militants close in on northern Syria, an offensive by Iraqi military forces is moving in on the ISIL Fallujah stronghold. In Syria, the government is no doubt anticipating retaking control of the Tabqa airbase, aside from retaking Raqqa.

Fighters of the Syria Democratic Forces take an overwatch position in northern province of Raqqa, Syria.
Russian-backed Syrian troops on Saturday pushed into Raqqa province, home to the self-declared capital of the "Islamic State" (IS). At the same time, fighters backed by the United States advanced into the province farther to the north.

Under the cover of Russian airstrikes Syrian troops have been enabled to broach the "administrative border" of Raqqa province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The city of Raqqa is 80 kilometres within the front line where four days of fighting have taken place. There is a level of co-ordination between the United States and Russia; the very day that U.S.-backed forces launched their attack on Manbij, 114 kilometres northwest of Raqqa, Syrian troops initiated their advance into Raqqa province.

Manbij's importance lies in its status as representing a link on a key supply route between the Turkish border to the city of Raqqa. The rebel-held stronghold of Marea, 70 kilometres west of Manbiij, is the site of fierce battles, with ISIL attempting to wrest it from the control of rebels and fighters from the Nusra Front, affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Battling in Raqqa province, ISIL is well occupied, under fire in Syria and as well in Fallujah where Iraqi forces' offensive is two weeks old, and currently on the edge of entering Fallujah. While in and around Aleppo, once Syria's major commercial centre, the Russian military reports that the Nusra Front shelled government-held neighbourhoods of the city. Whereas opposition activists lay claim to rebel-held neighbourhoods being assaulted.

Syrian army positions, according to opposition activist Baraa al-Halaby, have been attacked by insurgents led by the Nusra Front. "The aim of the attack south of Aleppo is to reduce pressure on the city by government forces", al-Halaby explained.

The strains between NATO ally Turkey and the United States and Russia can be determined by the fury with which Recep Erdogan regards collaboration with the Kurds, the true effective fighting force against Islamic State and Turkey's detested nemesis. The Kurds make no bones about their certainty that Islamic State has been and continues to be supported by Turkey. While Turkey is beside itself with rage over U.S. reliance on Kurdish militias to battle ISIL.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Follow @rheytah Tweet