Turks maneuvering toward Raqqa as US backed forces peel away
While the U.S.-backed campaign to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State in Iraq makes slow but steady progress, the battle for Raqqa, Syria, the “capital” of the group’s self-styled caliphate, has gotten off to a much shakier start, with various factions of the U.S.-backed coalition already at odds.The Kurds who had been the primary force fighting ISIL in Syria began leaving as the Turkish advance got closer. It raises the question of why the Turks did not do that years ago before the ISIL genocide spread. I suspect they were hoping ISIL would destroy the Kurds for them. With the Kurds actually winning Erdogan finally spot what he saw as a threat.
Arab and Kurdish factions of the Syrian Defense Forces, the umbrella coalition of militia groups in the country picked by Washington to spearhead the assault on Raqqa, have begun peeling off from the main force as they inch closer to the city, U.S. defense officials said.
Meanwhile, Turkey continues its own thinly veiled drive toward the Islamic State’s capital, pressing into the Syrian city of al-Bab, 100 miles west of Raqqa.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to acknowledge the Raqqa operation, led by the Kurdish-Arab joint force.
The Pentagon on Wednesday announced that U.S. commanders are withholding air support for the Turkish advance, saying the move is not in line with the U.S.-backed coalition’s battle plan against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“It’s a mess up there,” one U.S. defense official told The Washington Times last week, regarding the increasingly chaotic situation facing the U.S.-backed Syrian coalition moving on Raqqa.