Coalition works with SDF as they are a multi-ethnic force, spokesman says

Coalition works with SDF as they are a multi-ethnic force, spokesman says
4 years ago

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SULAIMANI – As much as 75 percent of the U.S.-backed forces who are now fighting to isolate Islamic State’s (ISIS) de-facto capital of Raqqa are Syrian Arabs, Spokesman for the Coalition forces, Colonel John Dorrian said.

Col. Dorrian spoke with reporters via teleconference from Baghdad, saying that the involvement of locals in the anti-ISIS assaults in northern Syria “is a reflection that's demographically fairly consistent with what you would find in that area.”

“The Syrian Democratic Forces are a multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian organization, and that is one of the reasons why we're working with them and they have continued to build the Arab element of their force,” he added.

Dorrian expected Kurdish involvement in the offensive to drive ISIS out of Syria’s Raqqa – an operation that a YPG commander said earlier this week would begin in April.

Since November 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian Arab Coalition have secured more than 7,400 square kilometers of territory rolling back ISIS territorial gains to the east, north and west of the city, he added.

YPG commander Sipan Hemo told Reuters that an offensive to liberate Raqqa will begin at the start of April and that “it will not take more than a number of weeks.”

This comes as Turkey continues its "Operation Euphrates Shield," launched in August, in an effort to push ISIS away from Turkish territories and stop the advance of Syrian Kurdish forces.

The operation has led to Turkish-backed rebels seizing the Syrian town of al-Bab from ISIS last week, deepening Turkish influence in northern Syria and creating a buffer zone.

While Turkey’s Euphrates Shield has been largely focused so far on combating ISIS, Ankara is also determined to prevent the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it considers a terrorist group, from linking the regions it controls along the Turkish border.