BEIRUT The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have seized 350 square km (a hundred thirty five square miles) in the previous week, tightening “their noose” on Islamic Condition in an progress to isolate its foundation of operations at Raqqa, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition explained on Wednesday.
Some three,000 to four,000 Islamic Condition fighters are believed to be holed up in Raqqa town exactly where they continue to erect defenses from the expected assault, drawing coalition air strikes to prevent them, Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, explained to Reuters in a mobile phone interview from Baghdad.
The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, has been encircling Raqqa given that November in a multi-phased offensive backed by the U.S.-led coalition that is also combating Islamic Condition in Iraq. Previous week, the SDF completed a major purpose by capturing Tabqa some fifty km (thirty miles) west of Raqqa.
“In the last week, the SDF have tightened their noose about ISIS in the northern and jap and western part of Raqqa,” Dillon explained. SDF fighters had drawn as around as four km (2.5 miles) to Raqqa at their closest issue to the town.
“They have taken virtually 350 sq kilometers of floor from ISIS, so they continue to just encroach and … tighten, and tighten and tighten that isolation ring, fairly frankly mainly uncontested,” he explained.
The SDF, which features the powerful Kurdish YPG militia, explained last week it expects to start the ultimate assault on Raqqa town in early summertime. YPG and SDF officials had earlier given April start out dates for the assault, but these slipped as the struggle for Tabqa went on.
Questioned about the timeframe, Dillon explained: “We do not test to stick to a timeline.
“There is certainly a principle of war known as surprise and we want achieve that and we want our companion pressure to achieve that when they do decide it is the correct time and put or destinations … to start out their assault.”
Defenses remaining erected by Islamic Condition contain earthen berms, some of them built to hold significant swimming pools of h2o. In some conditions, these had collapsed, triggering flooding in Raqqa town.
When the coalition presently has armed Arab fighters in the SDF, the White Dwelling last week authorized giving weapons for the YPG, to aid in the Raqqa assault.
Dillon explained there had been no deliveries and no details on the sorts of weapons and tools the SDF will get.
Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Occasion (PKK) that has fought a 3-10 years insurgency for Kurdish autonomy and rights inside of Turkey.
(This tale was refiled to add dropped word “on” in headline)
(Reporting by Tom Perry Modifying by Invoice Trott)