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US wants ‘local’ forces in nascent op to capture Daesh-held Raqqah

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“Local” forces must be in the “vanguard” of a fight to capture the Syrian Daesh-held city of Raqqah, says the US special envoy to the so-called coalition against the Takfiri terrorists.

Brett McGurk made the remarks while speaking Sunday at a news conference in Amman, the capital of Jordan, another member of the coalition, officially called the Global Coalition To Counter ISIL, which has been operating in Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.

“When it comes to Raqqah, we want force that ultimately liberates Raqqah that is primarily from the local area – Arabs from the area,” McGurk told reporters. “And so we have trained many of these fighters and that force will continue to grow as we get to the subsequent phase of the campaign.”

His statement followed an announcement by some anti-government militant groups, known as Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), saying they had started operations to capture the Daesh de facto capital in the Muslim country.

The US-backed militants also said they would coordinate with the coalition forces.

McGurk referred to the announcement “came from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is a coalition of Kurds and Arabs,” saying, “I want to make very clear it is our principle priority throughout this campaign that the vanguard of the force that takes major territory from Daesh should be locally based forces.”

He added that Washington supports the anti-government militants “when they are fighting Daesh.”

“We of course work very closely with the Syrian Democratic forces when they are fighting Daesh. We do provide air support. It has to be coordinated,” he said, further rejecting any coordination with Damascus.

“We do not coordinate with the government of (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad. We have no relationship with the government of Bashar al-Assad.”

McGurk also reiterated Washington’s anti-Assad policy, saying, “We believe that so long as Bashar al-Assad is in power the civil war which is basically destroying the western side of that country, and it is destroying most of Syria, will continue and so we absolutely, absolutely will not coordinate with the government in Damascus as it is presently constituted so absolutely not.”

The US has been accused of carrying out airstrikes that have done little to stop the Takfiri group in war-ravaged Syria.

Since March 2011, Syria has been gripped by a foreign-backed militancy. Parts of the country and neighboring Iraq are still controlled by Daesh terrorists, who were among militants trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the government in Damascus.

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